The Coronavirus pandemic is not only an unprecedented public health threat — it is having a devastating impact on many people’s jobs, especially in the retail, travel and restaurant industries. Meanwhile, grocery stores are all staying open even as so many other places of business are being forced to close. Serving the indispensable function of keeping people fed, they are seeing unprecedented business. Which means they are hiring.

Safeway, Giant Food, and Kroger are all hiring. Even Shoppers, despite its recent store closings and sales, is currently hiring. Local 400 members who have lost hours or have been laid off their jobs as a result of this crisis should not hesitate to apply for these good union jobs with benefits and strong contracts.

Safeway and Shoppers also recently announced plans to provide temporary, increased hazard pay during the crisis. Shoppers is temporarily providing an additional $2.00/hour for all hours worked, effective this past Sunday, March 15 through April 11. Overtime rates are also doubled the new hourly rate, rather than time and a half. Safeway is temporarily providing an additional $2.00/hour premium for all hours worked, effective this past Sunday, March 15 through March 28. The company will review and possibly extend the premium for future weeks.

Because grocery store workers are on the front lines of the fight against Coronavirus, Local 400 is fighting to ensure that all of our members are protected from exposure to the maximum extent possible. We are taking many actions to address the needs and concerns of our members, including:

  • We are working with state and federal leaders to develop immediate policies to safeguard your health.
  • We are insisting that our employers provide a minimum of 14 days paid leave to ensure that any member who gets sick or faces a quarantine because a family member is ill does not suffer financially as a result — and provide hazard pay and free childcare, as well.
  • And we are working to officially designate our grocery retail, health, and food processing members as “first responders.” This designation, we believe, will provide immediate access to testing and additional benefits and protections necessary to do your vital jobs.

In addition, Local 400 has posted a Coronavirus health and safety reporting form on our website. If you have a COVID-19 concern in your workplace, filling out this form will generate an immediate response from our staff, who are working closely with employers to keep you protected.

If you have been laid off, in addition to applying for grocery store jobs, the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO Community Services Agency has put together a list of valuable resources to help you support your family and survive these difficult times.

Please know that your union will leave no stone unturned in our mission to keep you healthy, safe, and employed. As difficult as the days ahead may be, we will get through this together.