The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union reports that 68 of its workers have died and over 10,000 have either tested positive or been directly exposed to Covid-19. The union is pushing for extending “hazard pay” for grocery store workers across the country, as the pandemic has not yet ended.
CNN reported on Wednesday that the UFCW says the actual total numbers are likely much higher, but they are basing their estimate only on data from members and does not include non-union stores or workers.
The group is also calling for stores to hire additional security, in the face of growing political discord over the issue of wearing masks in public spaces run by private business. The “political war” over the issue, as one worker put it, has resulted in both absurd acts and violent ones, and many prominent figures on the right continue to encourage Americans to fight the policies put in place by these private businesses in the interest of their employees and customers. A fact that has some workers scared and worried.
“Employees are downright afraid to ask people to wear a mask,” a union representative said on a press call Wednesday.
Additionally, many grocery companies instituted a “hazard pay” increase in wages for employees, who as essential workers have been in public and dealing with customers throughout lockdowns and quarantines. The union wants companies to extend that hazard pay, which is expiring for some workers, saying that the pandemic isn’t over yet and workers are still “in harm’s way every day.”
America's grocery workers put themselves in harm's way every day to help feed our families & keep us safe as the #coronavirus outbreak continues.
— UFCW (@UFCW) May 17, 2020