FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bertha Rodriguez, Bertha.Rodriguez@ufcw770.org, (213) 453-6276
Oxnard Essential Grocery and Drug Retail Workers to Receive a One-Time $1k Direct Payment as Recognition of their Work during the Pandemic
Oxnard is the First City in the Nation to Implement a Resolution of this Nature; For Over a year, UFCW Essential Workers have Fought for Appreciation Pay
Oxnard, CA– On June 1, the Oxnard City Council approved 6-0 to appropriate $2.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund for the Gratitude Program which grants full time and part time essential grocery and drug retail workers a one-time $1,000 payout if employees worked for a minimum of 3 months anytime between March 2020 to March 2021.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 and the Central Coast Labor Council advocated for this measure to be passed as a recognition to all union and non-union frontline workers who put themselves and their families at risk while keeping communities fed and healthy. With the Gratitude Program, roughly 450 UFCW 770 members will receive $1000. Over 1,300 non-union workers will also receive this payment.
“I was afraid to bring Covid home to my family,” says Becky Ayala, who is an employee at a Vons store in Oxnard. “I have an elderly brother with underlying conditions. During the pandemic we gave our best doing our jobs and we continued our customer service because we appreciate all our customers. While battling Covid we also struggled with increased rents and financial burdens. This gratitude payment is a great help for us and our families. We appreciate the Union and Oxnard City Council for providing this for us.”
UFCW 770 members pushed for opening the grant up to more workers including grocery/pharmacy and drug store workers. UFCW worked with Oxnard City Council members to increase funds used from the American Rescue Plan from $2 million to $2.5 million. UFCW 770 members also urged the city council to include drug retail workers since the original plan only covered grocery workers. The union also advocated for all frontline workers, full time and part time, to get the same benefit instead of the original plan to prorate pay for part time workers.
“This is a win for all essential workers in Oxnard. I am a single mother and like the rest of my coworkers, I worked hard throughout the pandemic so people from the community could buy the food and medications they needed. The Gratitude Program shows us that we didn’t just go to work every day and risked our lives for nothing. This shows us Oxnard’s gratitude, and I appreciate everything they are doing for us,” said Lucy Gilbertson, who works at Vons.
“While this payment will not fully reimburse workers for the risks to health and safety they have faced, it does acknowledge their sacrifice and integral role in this community. For this, we thank the Oxnard City Council,” said John Grant, President of UFCW 770.
After a state of emergency was declared due to the Covid pandemic last year, our union UFCW has been fighting for hazard pay for our members who are essential workers as well as all frontline employees who have been serving the communities and the nation as a whole.
About UFCW Local 770:
UFCW Local 770 represents over 25,000 grocery and drug retail workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Overall, the union represents more than 30,000 members in the retail food, retail pharmacy, meatpacking and food processing, laboratory, and cannabis industries.