The company plans to end the temporary pay increase and loosen safety measures in stores despite ongoing danger facing workers
LANDOVER, MD (May 27, 2020) – After Giant Food announced plans to cancel its 10% “recognition pay” increase after this week, United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 and UFCW Local 27, the unions representing Giant store associates, have called on the company to extend the temporary pay increase indefinitely until the end of this crisis for all Giant associates continuing to work.
“Our members have heroically served on the frontlines throughout this crisis, and with no vaccine in sight, they will have to continue to do so for quite some time,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “Whether you call it ‘recognition pay’ or ‘hero pay’ or ‘thank you pay,’ the bottom line is this: so long as these workers continue to face danger every day, they should be compensated for taking that risk.”
Stop & Shop, another grocery chain owned by Giant’s parent company Ahold Delhaize, agreed to extend its 10% pay increase through July 4 after more than 10,000 workers and supporters signed a petition to the company. “There is no reason Giant can’t do the same,” said Federici.
The company also announced plans to double the number of customers in stores, which makes it impossible to enforce social distancing in stores. The union has called on Giant and other grocery chains to restrict store traffic to no more than 10 customers per 10,000 square feet and no more than 50 customers at the same time.
“No matter how much we wish it were so, nothing is getting back to normal,” said Jason Chorpenning, President of UFCW Local 27. “Now is not the time to loosen safety measures intended to save lives.”
The UFCW estimates that more than 65 grocery workers have died as a result of the pandemic, and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.
UFCW has called on every employer as well as policymakers at the local, state and federal level to institute a suite of new policies to protect workers and customers, including:
- Declaring grocery store workers “first responders” or emergency personnel so they have access to the benefits and protections others in those categories receive, especially access to testing, treatment, and personal protective equipment (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont have already done this)
- Limiting the number of customers in a store to 10 people per 10,000 square feet and a maximum of 50 people in a store at a given time to be enforced by additional security staff (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island have recently placed limits on customers in stores, as has Kanawha County, WV)
- Mandating an additional 14 paid sick days to be used without the need to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine order
- Mandating paid leave of 12 weeks for those in high risk categories such as those over 60, immune-compromised individuals, and those who need to care for sick loved ones
- Access to free childcare (Maryland has already done this)
- Increased security at all stores, both through store security and increased police patrols
- Banning any discipline relating to time and attendance
- Mandatory wiping down of grocery carts, self-scan screens, and credit card touch screens after each use
- Public address announcements at regular intervals reminding people to maintain a 6-foot distance from employees and other customers
- Requiring a six-foot distance be kept from cashiers and other customers in line at check stands
- Requiring that only every other check stand and self scan be open
- Requiring shorter store hours or 7am-9pm to allow for additional cleaning, stocking, and rest time
- Mandating that employees be allowed to wear masks and gloves even if they are not sick
- Requiring employers to provide adequate amounts of masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer
- Mandating hazard pay with a minimum of at least $2 an hour and double time for any overtime hours worked
- Requiring stores to supply masks to all employees and customers to wear while in the store
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 represents more than 20,000 hard-working men and women in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in grocery and retail, pharmacy, food processing, chemical processing, meatpacking, manufacturing, healthcare, cannabis, gaming, and public sectors.