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Local 5 Pushes Cities, Counties to Mandate Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers During Pandemic
Local 5 has joined with UFCW local unions throughout California in a campaign to compel cities and counties to adopt ordinances requiring grocery companies to provide hazard pay to their employees during the pandemic.
The first measure will be introduced by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on December 29 and voted on in early January. It will be followed up with actions in other major cities including San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego in addition to others.
The proposed ordinance would require grocery stores to implement hazard pay for all essential front-line grocery workers in the amount of $5 an hour in counties that are above a yellow-tier status on the COVID-19 severity scale.
At the beginning of the pandemic, most companies recognized the status of their workers as “essential” and rewarded them with additional “hazard/appreciation pay” ranging from $2 to $5 an hour. With the exception of Lucky/Save Mart that continues to pay employees as much as $3 an hour over scale, the practice ended months ago.
Union president John Nunes explained the hazards faced by members including a recent study showing that grocery workers have a one in five chance of contracting the virus compared with the one in one hundred chance for the general public.
“Grocery and drug stores must do their part. They have raked in record profits. Some are even pursuing stock buybacks to inflate their share prices to reward executives and investors. We know there are ample profits to compensate essential grocery and drug store workers for placing their health and that of their families at risk. If executives refuse to act, then local government must step in and legislate hazard pay mandates for all grocery workers during today’s COVID-19 emergency,” Nunes said in a recently published San Francisco Chronicle editorial.
Union members will be the key to passing hazard pay ordinances through lobbying efforts and community engagement including calling and emailing elected officials, signing and distributing petitions, talking to neighbors and customers and other activities.
Look for more information on how you can get involved in the coming weeks.