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Once hailed as essential and deserving a “risk premium” to work during the Coronavirus pandemic, employees of grocery stores are now treated as “consumables”, according to the head of the union that represents them.

“Ninety percent of our members are more scared today than they were 60 days and 30 days ago because of the new variants,” Marc Perrone, International President of Workers, told CBSN. united food and trade.

More than 400 union grocery workers have died from COVID-19, but the number is likely higher, he added, highlighting the difficulty of tracking deaths in the industry.

Although workers at the grocery store don’t believe they should be on the front line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the union leader was outraged that only 13 states have prioritized them. “It’s criminal,” he said. “We have to look at the people most at risk.”

Perrone also said that grocery store owners should also ensure that customers wear masks to keep workers safe rather than leaving it in the hands of employees to enforce safety policies. “No shoes, no shirt, no service – it could be the same with masks,” he said.

Beyond calling for action to protect grocery store workers, UFCW continues to advocate for legislation making the risk premium mandatory for frontline workers. “If you take risks, you should get paid more,” Perrone said.


Some grocery stores are fighting against the “salary of heroes”

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In Perrone’s opinion, Kroger’s recent decisions to close two stores in Long Beach, Calif., and two more in Seattle, rather than temporarily paying an extra $ 4 an hour had more to do with messaging employees than with reducing labor costs. -work.

“It is clear that Kroger could have kept these stores open,” he said. The chain made an additional $ 3 billion in profit last year, compared to 2019, mainly due to the pandemic, he noted. “They could have shared these profits with these workers.”

In the middle of a national debate on increasing the federal minimum wageKroger meant, “If you try to legislate wages in this country, we’re going to fight back one way or another,” Perrone said.

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