05-21-2020

Kroger Drops Bid To Recoup Emergency Pay From Workers
Law360 
Danielle Nichole Smith
May 20, 2020

“Together with our members and workers across the country, we’ve continued to keep pressure on Kroger to treat workers fairly and protect their health and safety throughout the pandemic. This is another win,” Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 770, told Law360 in a statement Wednesday. “Kroger, a multibillion-dollar corporation, is making record profits off the hard work of their employees who’ve shown up every day on the front lines to keep stores open and safe in order to keep their communities fed.”

L.A. moves to cap fees charged by Uber Eats, Postmates, and other food delivery services
LA Times 
Emily Alpert Reyes
May 20, 2020

The planned cap was also backed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the labor unions Teamsters Local 396 and UFCW Local 770, which represent workers in package delivery, grocery stores, healthcare, and other industries.

How Many Grocery Store Workers Have Died From Coronavirus?
LAist
Itxy Quintanilla
May 21, 2020

“At least 68 grocery store workers nationwide have died from COVID-19, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 20,000 grocery store employees in Los Angeles County.”

68 U.S. Grocery Workers Die of COVID-19; Ford Temporarily Halts Production at 2 Plants
Democracy Now! 
May 21, 2020

“The United Food and Commercial Workers reports at least 68 grocery store workers across the U.S. have died from COVID-19 and more than 10,000 have fallen ill from the disease.”

Grocery employees say they work in fear, want hazard pay to continue
Detroit Free Press
Susan Selasky
May 21, 2020

“When Kristine Holtham recently urged a customer at the Kroger store in Lansing where she works to wear a face mask, she told him it was for her health and protection too.”

Food prices soar to highest one-month increase since 1974; price of eggs up 16% in April
USA Today 
Susan Selasky
May 20, 2020

“As more Americans stayed home in April because of COVID-19, they cooked more home meals. And they paid the price for it. Literally.”

Meat plants still coronavirus hotspots after Tyson reveals quarter of NC plant tested positive
Fox Business
Audrey Conklin
May 21, 2020

“Tyson Foods Inc revealed on Wednesday that a quarter of its Wilkesboro, North Carolina, poultry facility tested positive for COVID-19 after facility-wide testing from May 6-9, according to a press release.”

OSHA meatpacking guidelines aren’t enforceable: “OSHA is hiding”
CBS News 
AP
May 21, 2020

“Federal recommendations meant to keep meatpacking workers safe as they return to plants that were shuttered by the coronavirus have little enforcement muscle behind them. That’s fueling anxieties that working conditions could put employees’ lives at risk.”

Nearly 600 workers from North Carolina Tyson chicken processing plant test positive for COVID-19
CBS News 
May 21, 2020

“Almost 600 workers at a Tyson chicken plant that reopened after being closed for deep cleaning have tested positive for COVID-19, reports CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV. Tyson said 570 employees and contractors out of 2,244 from the Wilkesboro plant who were tested came up positive.”

Football and the factory line: Living at risk in a heartland hot zone
National Geographic
Elizabeth Merrill
May 20, 2020

“On April 3, Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a warning to the people of Nebraska: ‘If you want to see football this fall, you’d better be staying home right now.’”


05-20-2020

When store workers are forced to turn sheriff
CNN 
Harmeet Kaur
May 20, 2020

“In Michigan, a Family Dollar security officer was shot and killed after telling a customer to wear a mask. In Oklahoma, one McDonald’s employee was shot and two others were struck by shrapnel after a customer was angry that the restaurant’s dining area was closed. And in Los Angeles, a Target security guard was left with a broken arm from a fight with two unmasked customers.”

For Instacart shopper, chance to earn outweighs coronavirus safety risk
USA Today 
Trevor Hughes
May 20, 2020

“Across the country, many of the 500,000 Instacart shoppers like Mitchell are simultaneously doing the same thing: checking the app, loading up carts and delivering groceries to Americans remaining isolated in their homes. Even though he’s aware of the dangers, Mitchell grinds out order after order to pay child support for his two children, and to hopefully earn enough to move out of his in-laws’ home and into an apartment with his wife.”

Kroger Backtracks on Asking for Excess ‘Hero Pay’ to Be Returned
Food & Wine 
Mike Pomranz
May 20, 2020

“In 2018, Kroger—America’s largest owner of grocery store chains—spent $752 million on advertising, according to data from Ad Age. And yet, this week, a mere $461.60 nearly may have undone all the goodwill millions can buy.”


05-19-2020

Some grocery workers “scared to death” to return to work
CBS News
Kate Gibson
May 19, 2020

Christine Smith, a cashier at a Kroger-owned Ralphs in Ventura, California, worries about bringing home the virus to an elderly member of her household, her fiancé’s 97-year-old ex-father-in-law.

“His heart is starting to fail him, and we don’t want him to go from COVID-19 — we want him to go from natural causes,” Smith said. “We live with him. It keeps him out of a [nursing] home.”

While masks are required across much of California, their use is not mandated in grocery stores and other public settings in Ventura County, roughly an hour north of Los Angeles. At the Ralphs where Smith has been a cashier for nearly 15 years, customers who are not wearing a face covering are offered one at the door. But many refuse to accept a mask, or just hold it in their hands while shopping, said Smith, who earns about $22 an hour.

“How does that protect us? Without us, people aren’t going to eat,” said Smith, 50, who estimates that nearly half of shoppers who come into her store do not cover their faces. “People are thinking this is over — it’s not. I’m scared every time I clock in.”

Smith and Velasquez also describe long lines of customers who don’t always keep their distance from others, with many shoppers becoming irate when asked to follow guidelines and store markings.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been yelled at and cussed at just because of the masks, because there are lines, because you have to stand six feet apart,” Smith said.

Why meatpacking plants have become coronavirus hot spots
Vox
Nicole Narea
May 19, 2020

“Meatpacking plants have unexpectedly become the epicenters of coronavirus outbreaks in rural communities, putting workers and their neighbors in peril and slowing meat production across the country.”


05-04-2020

Ralphs, Food 4 Less workers to be tested for COVID-19 based on symptoms, medical need
KTLA 5
Kristina Bravo
May 2, 2020

Kroger shared its plan to offer testing to associates after a local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union protested Friday outside the Ralphs Hollywood location on Sunset Boulevard near La Brea Avenue.

Twenty-one people have tested positive for COVID-19 at that store, according to Los Angeles County’s list of workplaces that have had at least five coronavirus cases. It’s the county’s largest-known cluster of COVID-19 at a grocery store.

In early April, workers represented by UFCW 770 at the Ralphs store in nearby Koreatown said they had to buy and distribute their own face masks through the union.

At the time, a Ralphs representative told KTLA that the company was working to secure masks and installing plexiglass partitions to protect its 18,000 associates.

Outside the Ralphs store in Hollywood on Friday, motorists honked in apparent support of the protesters, who held a sign that read: “19 WORKERS HAVE TESTED COVID-19 POSITIVE IN THIS STORE… NOT ONE MORE!!!”

Mitt Romney proposes hazard pay raise of up to $12 for essential employees
Sacramento Bee
Summer Lin
May 4, 2020

Sen. Mitt Romney unveiled a plan that would give some workers hazard pay during the coronavirus pandemic. Romney’s Patriot Pay plan released on Friday would give hazard pay up to $12 an hour in addition to regular wages to essential employees. The raise would last through July and would be paid for by the federal government and employers through a payroll tax credit.

Why did it take a pandemic to make us value the lives of California’s essential workers?
Sacramento Bee 
Kristin Harknett, Daniel Schneider
May 2,  2020

“As our nation reels from COVID-19, low-paid grocery, retail and food-service workers are on the frontlines of essential services. Yet, even during a pandemic, many cannot take paid sick leave – exposing workers, their families and consumers to serious health risks.”

A Coronavirus May Day: Zoom Calls And A Car Caravan
LAist
Robert Garrova
May 1, 2020

“‘Immigrants and workers in transportation, warehouses, grocery workers and education keep the county going even as Congress wrongly leaves them out of crucial stimulus relief funding,’ CHIRLA Executive Director Angelica Salas said in a Zoom call.”

A Coronavirus Cluster Strikes at Rock & Roll Ralphs in Hollywood
LA Magazine
Ian Spiegelman
May 1, 2020

“The Hollywood supermarket known as Rock & Roll Ralphs has become the site of a coronavirus cluster, with 21 cases confirmed at the store. Of the non-residential community outbreak sites currently listed on the L.A. County Public Health Department’s website, the Sunset Boulevard grocery store had the largest number of cases.”

Planet Money: About That Hazard Pay
NPR
Sarah Gonzalez
May 1, 2020

“A lot of the essential workers right now are low paid: warehouse and delivery people, bus drivers, truck drivers, janitors, grocery store workers, to name just a few. And many of them did not sign up for the health risks they now face.”

373 Asymptomatic Carriers Identified at One Meat-Packing Plant
Daily Beast
Tom Sykes
May 4, 2020

“Is this good news or bad news? Nearly 375 employees at a Missouri meat-packing plant who tested positive for coronavirus were all asymptomatic, CNN reports, citing the state department of health. The workers were all employees of Triumph, a pork-processing plant, located in St. Joseph, on the border of Missouri and Kansas.

Meat Packers Question New COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
NPR
Christina Stella
May 4, 2020

“Meatpacking workers have been ordered back on the job to plants where COVID-19 cases had spread. While OSHA issued new safety guidelines, some wonder whether they protect workers or employers.”


05-01-2020

Coronavirus energizes the labor movement. Can it last?
LA Times 
Margot Roosevelt
May 1, 2020

“More demonstrations are expected Friday to coincide with May Day, International Workers’ Day. Union nurses at six Los Angeles hospitals will rally for better safety equipment. Car caravans will circle an Amazon delivery hub in Hawthorne and a Ralphs supermarket on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles — targets of workplace complaints after employees tested positive for the virus.”

Women, minorities shoulder front-line work during pandemic
AP 
Mae Anderson, Alexandra Anderson, Angeliki Kastanis
May 1, 2020

“As America tentatively emerges from weeks of lockdowns, the pandemic has taken its toll on workers who have been on the front lines all along.”

OSHA enforcement dwindles as workers fall ill
Politico 
Rebecca Rainey, Theo Meyer
May 1, 2020

“Grocery stores, meatpacking plants and other businesses have had to close temporarily due to the virus, and Democrats and labor groups have been calling on DOL to issue mandatory safety standards to prevent workplace exposure to Covid-19. House Education and Labor Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) recently introduced H.R. 6559 (116), which would require OSHA to issue an emergency standard within seven days that would establish mandatory coronavirus protections.”

Our meat is more important than meatpacking workers, according to Trump
Washington Post 
Eugene Robinson
April 30, 2020

“If you work in a meatpacking plant, by order of President Trump, you are officially considered less essential than the steak you’re cutting up. You have to risk being infected with the deadly coronavirus so that those of us who can stay home — and still get paid — may continue to enjoy our hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings.”

Editorial: Food and grocery workers are essential. They should have ‘essential’ pay and protection too
Los Angeles Times
The Times Editorial Board
May 1, 2020 

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to make people appreciate the grocery clerk, the shelf stocker, the restaurant delivery driver or the personal shopper who picks up the groceries you’ve ordered and drops them at your home.

04-30-2020

The “women’s work” of the pandemic
Vox 
Anna North
April 30, 2020

“And while some workers, many of them white-collar, are able to work from home during the pandemic and may have some flexibility in their schedules to shop and prepare meals, essential workers often don’t have that luxury. Some of those essential workers spend their days making sure others can eat, sometimes at the cost of their own safety. In particular, more than two-thirds of cashiers at grocery stores and fast food restaurants are women, Brenton said. These workers are in a vulnerable position, sometimes asked to work in crowded stores without proper protective equipment.”

White House, Congress have not given any hazard pay to the medical workers they call heroes
Washington Post 
Jeff Stein, Heather Long
April 30, 2020

“About 2 million grocery store workers, half a million pharmacy workers and nearly a million truckers and transport drivers also don’t have access to paid sick leave, according to an Economic Policy Institute analysis of government data. Because these workers are at companies with over 500 employees, they are not eligible for emergency paid leave under the new law.”

Workers Have Made More Than 7,300 Health Complaints About The Coronavirus
BuzzFeed News 
Caroline O’Donovan
April 29, 2020

“Though they represent only 2.5% of the total, at 182 complaints, supermarket

Unions, advocates say Trump putting meat packing workers at risk
ABC News 
Stephanie Ebbs
April 30, 2020

“Union officials and worker advocates are sounding the alarm about the president’s latest move demanding the meat packing industry stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying workers are already at risk of getting sick and companies have not done enough to protect them.

The real reason Trump treats meatpacking workers as disposable
CNN 
Raul A. Reyes
April 30, 2020

“Get back to work, says President Trump. He might as well add: even if it might kill you. Tuesday, he used the Defense Production Act to order meat and poultry processing plants to stay open, despite the coronavirus pandemic. He declared them ‘critical infrastructure’ in an executive order designed to avoid shortages of beef, pork and chicken.

Two of My Colleagues Died of Covid-19
New York Times 

Carmen Dominguez

April 29, 2020

“On a normal day, work at a meatpacking plant is not easy. The slaughterhouse is boiling hot. People who aren’t used to the temperature can feel as if they are experiencing high blood pressure. The freezer is super cold and will amplify any flulike symptoms. Workers wear as many layers as they can to stay warm, but it is difficult.


04-29-2020

The Root
Jessica Moulite
April 29, 2020 
While many around the globe settle more and more into a life that involves working from home, there’s a certain group of people who aren’t: essential workers.

More Essential Than Ever, Low-Wage Workers Demand More
NPR 
Alina Selyukh, Shannon Bond
April 28, 2020

“It wasn’t the first time that Shipt, owned by Target, had tinkered with that formula. Solis had complained about smaller paychecks and lack of pay transparency. But now he and others like him were putting their health on the line to do their work. Solis decided he had to take action. From his home in Denton, Texas, he logged on to Facebook and started organizing a nationwide walkout.”

More Than Half Of LA Child Care Centers Closed. Who Is Watching The Kids Of Essential Workers?
LAist
Mariana Dale
April 29, 2020

Outside of health care, essential workers include first responders, law enforcement officers, and grocery workers like Karla Barrera. She works as a manager in the deli department at a Sun Valley Ralph’s grocery store.

“I cashier, I bag. We just jump in together to help, but lately it’s been a little difficult,” Barrera said.

Her 6-year-old son’s school, Liggett Elementary, is closed and, like Dr. Viswanath, she doesn’t feel comfortable having her mom babysit her 4-year-old daughter.

“I already knew I was exposing them day by day by dropping them off with them, picking them up after,” Barrera said.

So for the last several weeks, she’s been on unpaid leave, staying at home to care for her kids.

For these essential workers, finding affordable child care can be a full-time job in itself.


04-27-2020

Thank Your Grocery Store Worker Today
Coronavirus in California – LA Times Podcast
Gustavo Arellano

“Some of the first images that showed how much coronavirus would change our daily lives weren’t of victims or hospitals, but of grocery stores. Whether you shop at Trader Joe’s or Northgate, your corner mercadito or Costco, long lines and empty shelves quickly became the norm. Our guest is Pam Hill, a checker at an Albertsons store in South L.A.”

Therapists Are Teaming up to Give Free Sessions to Essential Workers
NBC Los Angeles 
April 24, 2020

“‘My colleagues and I are dealing with severe panic attacks, migraines, gastrointestinal issues,  sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, calling out sick, and we are worried about long-term effects,’ Dionna Richardson said.”


04-21-2020

At Least Three Coronavirus Cases Confirmed at Vernon Industrial Bakery, About 40 Employees Placed Under Quarantine
Forthe
Kevin Flores
April 19, 2020

“Armando Espinoza, a representative with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 770, said that the general manager of the Farmer John pork slaughterhouse in Vernon told him he received a call from the city’s health department earlier this week recommending that all employees wear face masks.

“‘It was to my surprise, because you know, (the city has) been so business friendly. It really shows you the magnitude of what this could be potentially bringing,’ said Espinoza.”

Smithfield Foods Is Blaming ‘Certain Cultures’ for the Coronavirus Outbreak at Its Own Plant
VICE
Paul Blest
April 21, 2020

“There have been 725 confirmed cases among 3,700 workers at the Hong Kong-owned, Virginia-based company’s pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, according to BuzzFeed News. Smithfield closed the plant indefinitely on April 12, two days before 64-year-old worker Augustin Rodriguez died due to complications from coronavirus.”

Smithfield Foods Is Blaming “Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures” For One Of America’s Largest COVID-19 Clusters
BuzzFeed News
Albert Samaha, Katie J.M. Baker
April 21, 2020

“Was there any way to prevent the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota from becoming one of the country’s largest known coronavirus clusters, with more than 700 workers infected? It’s hard to know ‘what could have been done differently,’ a Smithfield spokesperson said, given what she referred to as the plant’s ‘large immigrant population.’”

Amazon-owned Whole Foods is quietly tracking its employees with a heat map tool that ranks which stores are most at risk of unionizing
Business Insider
Hayley Peterson
April 20, 2020

“Whole Foods is keeping an eye on stores at risk of unionizing through an interactive heat map, according to five people with knowledge of the matter and internal documents viewed by Business Insider.”

‘You’re On Your Own,’ Essential Workers Are Being Told
New York Times
Editorial Board
April 20, 2020

“At grocery stores and sprawling warehouses, workers say not enough is being done to protect them from exposure. Walmart employees, for instance, say they lack sufficient sanitizing supplies and protective gear and are forced to congregate in spaces that put them well within a six-foot radius of co-workers.”

04-20-2020

US grocery workers fear growing risks of exposure
Financial Times 
Courtney Weaver, Alistair Gray
April 18, 2020

“Pam Hill took leave from her job as a cashier for the Albertsons grocery store chain in Los Angeles after two of her co-workers tested positive for coronavirus. Now, after experiencing her own symptoms of the virus, she is awaiting results that will determine whether she can return to work. “I have to go back,” she said. “There’s no safety net here.”’

“John Grant, president of UFCW Local 770, said too many store managers were preoccupied with sales and there were still too many customers in stores, especially in poorer communities.”

COVID-19 safety standards set for California grocery workers
Supermarket News 
Russell Redman
April 17, 2020

“‘The public’s safety and the safety of all workers in the food chain — from the fields to the grocery check stand — is of critical importance,’ stated John Grant, president of Los Angeles-based UFCW Local 770. ‘The governor’s executive order will help deliver a basic level of security for workers facing exposure to COVID-19 and to the community who depends on these essential workers for our food. UFCW is proud to work collaboratively with Gov. Newsom and the California Grocers Association during this unprecedented crisis to take measures to protect workers, their families and the community, and keep the food supply strong and the public fed.’”

04-15-2020

L.A. County moves to protect delivery workers, limit number of customers in stores
LA Times
Suhauna Hussain, Dakota Smith
April 14, 2020

“UFCW members serve as frontline workers in grocery and drug stores throughout Los Angeles County. They are putting their health and safety on the line during this pandemic,” said John Grant, president of the union branch. “The requirements to provide PPE and regular hand washing, among other measures, will promote public safety and health throughout Los Angeles County and flatten the curve of the pandemic.”

LA County Requires Grocery, Food Delivery Employers to Clean Stores, Protect Workers
NBC Los Angeles
City News Service
April 14, 2020

“Grocery and pharmacy workers and food delivery drivers have unexpectedly found themselves at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, yet stores have not provided sufficient health or safety protections,” said John Grant, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770. “We thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas for leading the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to implement necessary measures that protect workers who are risking their health to serve their communities.” 

Kroger CEO urges feds, states to label workers ’emergency personnel’
USA Today 
Alexander Coolidge
April 14, 2020

At least 30 supermarket employees have died as a result of COVID-19, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said in a release on Monday. Another 3,000 have called out of work after showing signs of illness or other possible coronavirus-related complications.

To make matters worse, most supermarket workers say customers aren’t adhering to safety precautions, the union says.

UFCW, a food and retail union that represents over 900,000 grocery workers, surveyed 5,000 of its clients, and 85% said customers are not practicing social distancing. When asked what grocery stores should do to improve the safety and treatment of workers, 72% said limit the number of customers in stores.

COVID-19 claims lives of 30 grocery store workers, thousands more may have it, union says
USA Today 
Dalvin Brown
April 14, 2020

At least 30 supermarket employees have died as a result of COVID-19, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said in a release on Monday. Another 3,000 have called out of work after showing signs of illness or other possible coronavirus-related complications.

To make matters worse, most supermarket workers say customers aren’t adhering to safety precautions, the union says.

UFCW, a food and retail union that represents over 900,000 grocery workers, surveyed 5,000 of its clients, and 85% said customers are not practicing social distancing. When asked what grocery stores should do to improve the safety and treatment of workers, 72% said limit the number of customers in stores.

At least 30 grocery store workers have died from the coronavirus. Now, there’s an urgent call to designate them as first responders
CBS News 
Caitlin O’Kane
April 15, 2020

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents about 1.3 million workers, and The Kroger Co. supermarket chain, are calling on federal and state government officials to designate grocery store associates as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.”

“Since the onset of this pandemic, Kroger family of companies associates, who are also members of the UFCW, have been working tirelessly to make sure that millions of American families have the fresh food and products they need,” a statement from Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen and UFCW International President Marc Perrone reads. “As all Americans are now witnessing — grocery workers play a critical role in our communities and they must be protected.”

At least 30 grocery store workers have died from the coronavirus, and their colleagues are pleading for shoppers to wear masks and respect social distancing
Business Insider
Irene Jiang
April 13, 2020

In a media call on Monday, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, told journalists that over 30 of its members had died from the coronavirus. UFCW, which represents about 1.3 million grocery store workers and food processing workers, is pushing for increased protection from the government for its members. The union is asking the CDC to classify grocery workers as first responders, and to give them priority for testing and protective equipment.

Grocery Workers Should Be Designated First Responders, Supermarkets And Union Say
NPR
Alina Selyukh
April 14, 2020

Kroger’s push with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union follows a similar joint call last week by the union and Albertsons, the second-largest supermarket chain that also runs Safeway, Acme, Vons and other stores. The union says it represents the majority of grocery workers at both companies.

“Given the significant daily risk these workers face … we are requesting our nation’s leaders to assign a temporary designation of first responder or emergency personnel status for all grocery workers,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement on Tuesday.


04-14-2020

Attention, shoppers: Here’s how to protect grocery workers from coronavirus
CBS News
Irina Ivanova
April 14, 2020

“Grocery store employees have found themselves on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, deemed as essential as health care workers and police officers. Unlike their peers, however, retail workers often aren’t provided with the personal protective equipment that can save their lives.”

Why stores could start taking customers’ temperatures
CNN Business
Nathaniel Meyersohn
April 9, 2020

Stores are scrambling to protect their workers from coronavirus. Some have begun taking employees’ temperatures to keep sick workers home. But that doesn’t keep employees safe from sick customers.

4 union leaders: Coronavirus is a stress test for capitalism, and we see encouraging signs
USA Today
Randi Weingarten, Chris Shelton, Mary Kay Henry and James P. Hoffa
April 13, 2020

American businesses will certainly emerge from the coronavirus crisis transformed by the trials of human loss, steep recession and Wall Street collapse. The social fabric of capitalism is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime stress test. We are seeing the faults with the gig economy and the unfounded faith in finance. We are also seeing strengths in well-managed companies with established relationships with workers.

Here’s what reopening the economy is likely to look like: More masks, fewer workers, high unease
Washington Post
Heather Long
April 14, 2020

“But before a vaccine is found, expect a transition period. The government is likely to give its blessing for firms to try opening up if they take serious preventive measures, similar to what many grocery stores are doing by limiting the number of people in the store.”

Coronavirus: Labor union calls for additional safeguards for grocery store employees
KABC
Rachel Brown
April 13, 2020

“As confirmed coronavirus cases among supermarket employees continue to be reported, a union representing many of the essential workers is calling for additional measures to ensure their safety in the workplace.”

What’s it like to be an essential food worker right now?
Berkeleyside
Cirrus Wood
April 13, 2020

“Manuela Sinagra-Gonzalez works as cashier at Belotti Bottega on Piedmont Avenue. Sinagra-Gonzalez comes originally from Campania in Southern Italy, “so you can just imagine personally how I feel about all this,” she said.”

Grocery delivery workers report delays in getting protective gear
The Hill 
Chris Mills Rodrigo
April 13, 2020

“Workers at two grocery delivery firms are reporting delays in getting personal protective equipment (PPE) from the companies, even as cities begin to require customers to wear masks to enter the stores.”

Discarded gloves, crowded aisles: Major grocery worker union urges US shoppers to wear masks, change how they shop during the pandemic
CNBC
Melissa Repko
April 13, 2020

“One of the nation’s largest labor groups, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, is urging customers to wear masks and gloves every time they go to the grocery store and change how they shop to protect the health of employees and one another during the coronavirus pandemic.”


04-13-2020

Workers now deemed ‘essential’ want more: How the coronavirus crisis might bring permanent labor gains on unionizing, sick leave and other issues
Chicago Tribune
Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Lauren Zumbach
April 13, 2020

“But some workers at businesses deemed essential, like grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, factories, warehouses and delivery services, say the steps being taken, which started with extra cleaning, aren’t enough.”

‘It feels like a war zone’: As more of them die, grocery workers increasingly fear showing up at work
Washington Post
Abha Bhattarai
April 12, 2020

“Doug Preszler wasn’t thinking about risk when he took a cashier job at a regional supermarket in eastern Iowa. But five months in, he has found himself at the forefront of a global crisis with little training or protection — save for the pocket-size bottle of hand sanitizer and Ziploc full of disposable gloves he brings from home each day.”

‘We’re risking our life’: coronavirus takes a toll on essential workers still on the job
The Guardian
Michael Sainato
April 12, 2020

“Essential workers still on the job continue to get paid, but the stress of working as the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States is taking a heavy toll on those working in grocery stores, transportation, food service, sanitation and other areas as they risk exposure to the virus for themselves and their families.”

Gov. Newsom directing $100 million for child care services for essential workers
KTLA
Nouran Salahieh
April 11, 2020

“Gov. Gavin Newsom is releasing $100 million to support child care services for California’s essential workers and at-risk children as the coronavirus pandemic leaves schools closed through the end of the academic year, his office announced Friday.”

Coronavirus Adds to a Kroger Stocker’s Load, and Paycheck
Wall Street Journal
Jaewon Kang
April 11, 2020

“The 32-year-old stocker for a Kroger Co. store in Huntington, W.Va., has added 20 hours to his typical 40-hour workweek. The coronavirus pandemic pushed up demand for groceries, and folks like Mr. Harshbarger rank among the nation’s most essential workers.”

We Asked 11 Essential Workers What Their Lives Were Like During The Coronavirus Pandemic
BuzzFeed News
Kate Bubacz
April 11, 2020

“Workers are increasingly feeling that they are abandoned on the front line of an invisible war, one that disproportionately affects minorities and the poor. Pat Nabong spoke with 11 people around Chicago during the early days of the pandemic about their newly essential roles in society.”

Essential workers provide a lifeline in the coronavirus lockdown. Will America reward their sacrifice?
CBS News
Taylor Mooney
April 10, 2020

“With millions of Americans under stay-at-home orders in the coronavirus pandemic, workers like grocery store employees, bus drivers and delivery people have become indispensable lifelines. Often unnoticed and undervalued by society, they now put themselves at risk so that daily life can continue to function.”

What the Hell Is Going on at Trader Joe’s?
Eater
Jenny G. Zhang
April 10, 2020

“The dearth of such protections or compensation has emerged as a critical sticking point around which some essential workers are seeking to organize — including Trader Joe’s employees. In late March, a coalition of Trader Joe’s workers called for a boycott of the grocery chain, citing multiple reports of employees testing positive for COVID-19, with store managers allegedly ‘keeping stores open despite [a] sick crew.’”

Watchdog groups say new FDA, CDC guidelines don’t go far enough to protect essential food workers
Washington Post
Tim Carman
April 10, 2020

“Nearly one month after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, and three weeks before he would like to reopen much of the country, the Food and Drug Administration has announced a comprehensive list of best practices to protect workers and consumers in the essential businesses that are feeding Americans during a pandemic when everyone is supposed to keep their distance.”

Forbes 
Neil Stern
March 30, 2020
Like many, I first want to say how proud I am to be associated with the retail food industry. The efforts on the part of everyone in the industry to keep stores in stock, associates safe and customers served as best as possible is nothing short of heroic. In times of great challenges, it becomes abundantly clear how elemental food is in our lives and as part of the fabric of the communities that it serves.

04-09-2020

Grocery store workers are dying from coronavirus—new laws are forcing companies to protect them
Fast Company 
Adele Peters
April 9, 2020

“As millions of other “essential retail” workers continue to risk their lives to stock shelves and run cash registers, they are often doing so completely exposed, without being provided gloves or masks to protect them from all the human contact they have while performing their duties. Across the country, some lawmakers are working to force the stores to provide more protection, so keeping America fed doesn’t mean workers have to get infected.”

Los Angeles Mayor Now Requires Restaurant Workers to Wear Face Masks
Eater LA 
Mona Holmes
April 8, 2020

“Yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a worker protective order requiring restaurants and food delivery employees to wear protective face masks. The announcement also requires essential businesses to provide employees with the protective gear, or reimburse employees for the cost. This order applies to restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, drug stores, and other essential businesses beginning April 10.”

Even With New Federal Coronavirus Bill, Most Workers Get No Additional Sick Leave
KQED 
Sam Harnett
April 8, 2020

“San Jose and San Francisco passed emergency bills Tuesday, requiring large companies to give all employees 14 days of paid sick leave if they have been affected by COVID-19.”

A look at one group of unsung COVID-19 heroes
Reuters
April 8, 2020

“As cases of coronavirus soar past 400,000 in the United States, a group of workers potentially expose themselves to the contagion on a daily basis, and they aren’t medical workers. They’re the grocery store workers keeping the supply chain going as America battles the crisis.”

 

Grocery union demands CDC require masks
Politico
Ian Kullgren
April 8, 2020

“The 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers union criticized the CDC in a letter for failing to tell employers to give workers protective masks and gloves; to tell customers to wear masks in stores; and to tell employers to limit the number of people allowed in the store at one time (20 to 30 percent of capacity, UFCW suggested) to make it easier to enforce social distancing.”


04-08-2020

For Some Grocery Store Employees, Going to Work in a ‘Petri Dish’ is Terrifying
KCET
Larry Altman
April 7, 2020

“So many of us are scared,” said Mueller-Reiche, who has worked for the Kroger company for 13 years in Ohio and now California. “We are working in a petri dish. This disease is invisible we don’t know where it’s going to come from.”

California Counties and Cities Begin to Mandate Face Coverings in Further Efforts to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
National Law Review
Elyza P. Heraldez, Jonathan A. Siegel
April 8, 2020

“The City of Los Angeles also issued an executive order that mandates essential workers defined by the order to wear face coverings and requires employers with providing face coverings to their employees. Employers are required to allow their essential workers to wash their hands every 30 minutes.”

L.A. orders customers, workers to wear face coverings as coronavirus protection
LA Times
Emily Alpert Reyes, Sarah Parvini, Jaclyn Cosgrove
April 7, 2020

“Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order Tuesday evening requiring all residents to wear a face-covering when visiting the majority of essential businesses, in hopes that it will protect workers and slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

Customers without masks may be refused service during coronavirus outbreak
LA Daily News
Elizabeth Chou
April 7, 2020

“Cloth face coverings will need to be worn at grocery and drug stores, construction sites, within taxis and other essential businesses under a new order going into effect Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.”

L.A. Mayor Orders Essential Workers to Wear Masks to Avoid Virus
Bloomberg Law
Emily C. Dooley
April 7, 2020

“Calling it a worker protection order, Garcetti said Tuesday that employers in the nation’s second most populous city would have to provide the masks or reimburse employees who buy their own.”

LA Mayor Announces Face Masks Will Be Required in Public Starting Friday
Newsweek
Daniel Villareal
April 7, 2020

“During his daily coronavirus briefing, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning, all of the city’s non-medical essential workers and customers visiting essential businesses will be required to wear cloth face coverings over their noses and mouths.”

Mayor Garcetti Orders Masks, Face Coverings at Essential Businesses
NBC Los Angeles
City News Service
April 7, 2020

“The mandate, which will apply to a host of businesses including hardware stores, laundromats, taxi and ride-hailing services, hotels and plumbers in the California city, will take effect Friday. Employers will be required to provide employees with the non-medical face coverings, or reimburse employees who obtain them on their own.”

A major grocer is pushing to classify its employees as first responders, giving them priority for testing and protective gear
Business Insider
Aine Cain, Hayley Peterson
April 7, 2020

“A major North American supermarket company and the largest food and retail union in the United States have teamed up to push for grocery store employees to be designated as ‘first responders.’”


04-07-2020

Trabajadores de supermercados se mantienen al frente de la batalla pese al alto riesgo de contagio de covid-19
Univision
Dulce Castellanos

April 7, 2020

“Son considerados esenciales, pero a lo largo del país muchos han protestado para que les suministren artículos de protección. El constante contacto con otras personas es motivo de preocupación para los empleados de estos establecimientos.”

Grocery Workers Demand Better Protection While on the Frontlines
Spectrum 1
Kristopher Gee
April 7, 2020

“At a Ralphs grocery store in Koreatown, reps from the UFCW local 770 union recently handed out custom-made face masks (or coverings) for their members in an effort to address what they are saying are inadequate efforts by the store management to provide protection for their employees, and by extension, the public.”

Grocery deliveries upended by (another) gig protest
Politico
Alexandra S. Levine

April 7, 2020

— Happening today: Gig workers for Target’s shopping and delivery platform, Shipt, are the latest to stage a protest demanding stronger financial and physical protections during the pandemic — a trend that continues to throw gig companies into chaos.

What’s the most ethical way to get grocery delivery?
Fast Company
Adele Peters
April 7, 2020

“Around the country, these delivery people have engaged in campaigns and work stoppages to protest the lack of protective equipment and sick leave provided by their employers. But many people do need groceries delivered during this time, so what’s the best way to do it?”

Grocery workers are beginning to die of coronavirus
Washington Post
Abha Bhattarai
April 6, 2020

“Major supermarket chains are beginning to report their first coronavirus-related employee deaths, leading to store closures and increasing anxiety among grocery workers as the pandemic intensifies across the country.”

Grocery Stores Report Coronavirus Deaths in Recent Weeks
Daily Beast
Julia Arciga

April 6, 2020

“Major supermarket chains are reporting coronavirus-related employee deaths as grocery stores remain open due to the pandemic. According to The Washington Post, workers at Trader Joes, Giant, and Walmart in three different states have died in recent days due to COVID-19.”

Grocery Store Workers: COVID-19’s Unsung Heroes
Santa Barbara Independent
Matt Kettmann

April 6, 2020

“While doctors, nurses, and health-care professionals at large are rightfully being lauded as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s another set of less likely saviors facing the coronavirus frontlines every day: grocery store workers.”


04-06-2020

Grocery workers are key during the virus. And they’re afraid
AP 
Jim Vertuno
April 6, 2020

“They disinfect keypads, freezer handles and checkout counters as hundreds of people weave around them, sometimes standing too close for comfort amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some work for hours behind clear plastic barriers installed at checkout counters, bulwarks against sudden sneezes or coughs that can propel germs.”

Why many ‘essential’ workers get paid so little, according to experts
Washington Post 
Christopher Ingraham
April 6, 2020

“They also happen to be among the lowest-paid workers in the country. So why the disconnect? And, conversely, why are relatively nonessential jobs in such fields as entertainment and finance so well-compensated? To find out, we asked economists across the ideological spectrum to explain.”

Grocery workers protest
Sacramento Bee 
Andrew Sheeler
April 6, 2020

“United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, which represents thousands of grocery workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, led a protest action Friday, demanding that employers immediately provide personal protective equipment to their employees.”

Gov. Newsom expedites child care for parents on front lines of coronavirus pandemic
San Francisco Chronicle
Sam Whiting
April 5, 2020

People on the front lines in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic — from grocery clerks to health care professionals to firefighters — will get priority in arranging child care based on an executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday.

Stores are scrambling to get masks for their workers. It’s no easy task
CNN Business 
Nathaniel Meyersohn, Sara Ashley O’Brien
April 5, 2020

“Aside from health care workers, no one is more exposed to coronavirus than the workers continuing to show up to grocery stores and warehouses to ensure people have access to essential goods.”

With lack of direction from federal government, U.S. grocery stores and warehouses create own safety rules
KTLA 
Erin Myers
April 5, 2020

“America’s grocery stores, retail chains and warehouses staying open during the coronavirus crisis can’t seem to agree on how exactly to keep their millions of workers safe at the height of a pandemic.”

Local grocers risk health to keep Sonoma County fed
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 
Phil Barber
April 4, 2020

“But grocery store employees are very much on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Day in, day out, they subject themselves to the sort of physical proximity and repetitive package handling that would make most people blanch these days, all to deliver the raw materials of our survival — milk and eggs, wine and avocados, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper.”

What to know about hazard pay if you’re working during coronavirus crisis

ABC News 
Catherine Thorbecke
April 3, 2020

“As thousands of grocery staffers, delivery workers and other “essential” employees still head to work amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, recent searches for “hazard pay” have skyrocketed, according to Google data.”

Ralphs to provide face masks to employees as workers at Koreatown store demand more protective gear
KTLA 
Steve Kuzj
April 3, 2020

“Grocery workers have had to buy and distribute their own face masks through their union, according to UFCW 770, which represents the employees.”

“Customers Don’t Adhere to the Six Feet of Distance at All”: A Butcher on Working Through the Coronavirus
Mother Jones 
Sean Jones as told to Becky Dernbach
April 3, 2020

“Along with his United Food and Commercial Workers union local, Sean has joined an effort to call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to classify grocery workers as emergency personnel and make sanitation protections and crowd control mandatory at stores. I spoke with him about his experience.”

Workers at grocery stores, others must wear face coverings, San Diego County orders
LA Times 
Luke Money, Lindsay Winkley
April 3, 2020

“San Diego County is requiring employees who regularly interact with the public to wear face coverings, the latest push across California to have people cover their faces as another measure to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

“Essential” Workers Are Dying
Slate
Marc Kagan
April 2, 2020

Eight New York City transit workers have died—so far—due to complications from COVID-19. This news reminds us of Robert Snyder’s observation that “in the simplest calculation there are only two classes of people: those who might get hurt or killed on the job and those who don’t.”


04-05-2020

‘The $2 is insulting’: Retail workers fight for more pay amid coronavirus crisis
Los Angeles Times
Suhauna Hussain

April 3, 2020

“Ralphs grocery workers represented by UFCW plan to rally Friday to demand the company provide face masks, after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday urged residents to wear face coverings.”

The Challenge of Being an ‘Essential’ Service Worker in a Pandemic
KQED
Sam Harnett

April 3, 2020

“Until recently, most major grocery store chains were telling workers they could not wear their own masks to work, and in some cases even discouraged wearing gloves. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has successfully pushed to have those restrictions lifted and helped some workers negotiate hazard pay raises of up to $2 an hour.”

Stores are hiring like crazy. But they have part-time workers who want more hours
CNN Business
Nathaniel Meyersohn

April 3, 2020

“Large retail and grocery chains staying open during the coronavirus crisis are on hiring sprees. But some of the companies’ existing part-time employees who want more work are concerned that the plans will make it harder for them to get ahead.”

Grocery unions protect workers and save lives
The Hill
John Logan

April 3, 2020

“Researchers have long known that unionized workplaces – whether in mining, construction, manufacturing or warehouses – are significantly safer for employees than non-union workplaces. Now we are learning in real time that the same is true for grocery workers, who have been unexpectedly thrust onto the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.”

Labor Fight Collides With the Pandemic at Trader Joe’s
New York Times
David Yaffe-Bellany

April 2, 2020

“On March 23, as the coronavirus pandemic put grocery workers on the front lines of a public health crisis, Trader Joe’s sent a memo to store managers encouraging them to relay a message to employees: Joining a union might be a bad idea.”

Mask-Wearing Policies Added to San Diego County’s Public Health Order
NBC San Diego
Christina Bravo, Brenda Gregorio-Nieto

April 2, 2020

“Additional regulations will take effect this weekend for San Diegans in the county’s effort to “change the trajectory” of the spread of COVID-19 among the community, county leaders announced Thursday.”

Retail sector companies turn to masks, gloves in coronavirus fight
Reuters
Noor Zainab Hussain, Shariq Khan

April 2, 2020

“Major U.S. retail sector companies on Thursday moved to allay health and safety concerns of staff working at warehouses and stores through the coronavirus pandemic by promising face masks, gloves and sanitizers.”