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On the front lines of the pandemic, grocery workers are in the dark about risks

In Quincy, the health department first contacted the local Walmart on April 11 to inform the store of an employee it learned had tested positive for the coronavirus. Jones, the health director, said the department repeatedly asked the company for the names and contact information for employees who worked closely with the infected employee so officials could identify and inform other workers who may have been exposed.

In the meantime, the health department kept learning of new cases among store employees, and the number of potentially exposed employees mushroomed.

After receiving no information for nearly two weeks, Jones escalated her request to the Walmart corporate office.

Finally, on April 28, Walmart provided contact information for employees at the Quincy store who had been exposed to the virus, Jones said. Five days later, 69-year-old Yok Yen Lee, the greeter at the store, died of covid-19, her family said.

Under pressure from the health department, Walmart then closed the store for a week, cleaned it and offered testing to every worker. In all, 34 employees at that location tested positive. In Worcester, more than 80 employees were infected, health officials said.

Troubled by Walmart’s response in Quincy and Worcester, lawmakers sent a letter on May 7 to Doug McMillon, the company’s president and chief executive.

“Across the country, more than 20 Walmart employees have died from COVID-19, and employees have had to take the critical work of contact tracing into their own hands to try and remain safe,” the delegation, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), wrote in the letter.

In a May 19 response to lawmakers, Bruce C. Harris, a Walmart vice president of federal government affairs, wrote that managers are required to meet with associates to let them know about each coronavirus case, and that they are monitoring the number of employees taking leave.

“We are managing thousands of different, and sometimes conflicting, emergency orders and directives,” Harris wrote.

In Los Angeles, a Ralph’s supermarket employee, Jackie Mayoral, said managers instructed workers not to talk about sick colleagues around customers and that managers also refused to disclose how many employees were infected. It was only through the union that Mayoral learned more than 20 of her colleagues at the supermarket, owned by Kroger, had tested positive for the virus.

“Me and my co-workers are a family, and we should be able to talk about the things that are going to be able to affect us and possibly kill us,” said Mayoral, who was diagnosed with covid-19 in April and believes she contracted the coronavirus at the supermarket, the only place she regularly visits outside of her home. She has since recovered.

Asked about the directives to avoid speaking about cases, Kristal Howard, a Kroger spokeswoman, said the company’s guidance “is always to communicate with integrity — openly and transparently — while protecting the privacy of any affected associate.”

Employment attorneys said companies must balance protecting employee privacy with keeping workplaces safe.

“We’re dealing with overlapping laws, gaps in laws and differing guidance from different levels of government,” said Kirk Nahra, an attorney at the law firm WilmerHale who specializes in privacy, data and health-care issues. “Companies are not supposed to disclose your name, but can they tell other employees in the meat department that someone who worked there Tuesday tested positive? Sure.”

Industry experts said the pandemic has left some supermarket chains struggling with what information should be shared with regulators or the public about sick and exposed employees.

Grocery companies are facing unprecedented challenges when an employee falls ill or dies, according to Hilary Thesmar, chief food and product safety officer for the Food Marketing Institute, a trade group for grocery stores and wholesalers.

“Companies are having to weigh a lot of factors: When did the employee test positive? When were they last at work?” she said.

But Oscar Alleyne, chief of programs and services at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said that retailers need to be more transparent with public health officials to protect these high-risk essential workers and the public.

“You’re only as good as the data you have,” Alleyne said.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace safety, issued guidance in April that coronavirus cases were reportable to the agency under certain circumstances. But the agency said it generally wouldn’t enforce the rules except for employers in the health-care industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions.

New workplace safety guidance from OSHA that goes into effect Tuesday asks most industries to report coronavirus cases that meet certain criteria. But employment experts say the guidance is murky and allows employers to decide whether the cases are work-related.

In the absence of data, UFCW has compiled daily reports on infected employees from its local chapters. Employees at chains such as Walmart and Whole Foods have started their own grassroots efforts to tally illnesses and deaths at their stores, using social media and published reports to confirm tips. (Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, owns The Post.)

During the outbreak, Whole Foods, which has about 500 stores in the United States, began sending voice mail and text messages to employees to notify them of coronavirus cases in their stores. But some officials are pushing for more disclosure. On May 11, attorneys general from 12 states and the District wrote to Whole Foods and Amazon, admonishing the companies for failing to alert health officials and the public about infections and deaths of their workers.

The attorneys general said they learned from media reports of multiple infections among workers at a Whole Foods in the District and of two employee deaths in Portland, Ore., and Swampscott, Mass.

By not sharing a breakdown of coronavirus cases, the retailers may be breaching consumer protection laws, which “require businesses to provide truthful information and disclose material information to consumers,” the letter said.

Whole Foods has not responded to the letter, but a company spokeswoman said the chain is balancing the essential services it provides with ensuring the “health, safety and privacy” of their workers.

‘Putting us all in danger’

Grocery chains have publicly touted face masks, social distancing requirements, rigorous cleaning and temperature checks as proof that they are keeping workers and customers as safe as possible.

Two grocery chains have used faulty or ineffective equipment, according to documents and interviews.

The Kroger-owned Quality Food Centers chain uses infrared sensors to count the number of shoppers in its stores as a way to limit customers and facilitate social distancing. But the technology routinely provided incorrect tallies, according to internal company documents obtained by The Post.

“Once a person is inside for 30 minutes, the system assumes that individual is an associate and stops counting that person,” QFC President Chris Albi said in a Q&A with employees of the chain, which has 62 stores in Washington and Oregon.

A Kroger spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions about any problems with the system but said management regularly verifies the capacity limits within the store.

At BJ’s Wholesale Club in Baltimore, a manager said the thermometers were not calibrated properly and the temperature readings of employees consistently reported 96 or 97 degrees. The manager said a supervisor also brushed off concerns about the lack of social distancing by employees who examined customers’ receipts as they left the warehouse.

“It is appalling conduct and a policy that is putting us all in danger,” said the manager, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “I would quit in protest, but I worry that without me, it’s one more person in a leadership role who is not taking this seriously.”

A BJ’s spokeswoman said since the coronavirus outbreak, the company has “taken aggressive actions and implemented extensive safety and sanitation measures across all our facilities; and we always encourage our team members to provide feedback and voice concerns.”

Even when employees have reported feeling sick, some said that their managers have insisted that they continue to work because of staffing shortages.

Gladys Cortes, who worked at the Best Market supermarket in Islip, N.Y., told her manager in late March that she wasn’t feeling well and had a bad cough, but her boss wouldn’t allow her to leave early and said she needed to be back the next day, according to Noemi Salavarria, a former colleague who said she talked with Cortes when she was hospitalized days later with covid-19. Two other workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, said they had heard Cortes talking in the store about how she felt sick and needed a break.

Cortes, a single mother of a young child, died on April 9 of complications from covid-19.

“If they would have let her go home, she could still be alive,” Salavarria said. “She didn’t deserve this.”

Upon learning on April 9 that Cortes died of complications from covid-19, management notified employees in conversations and then in a letter of “the passing of one of our colleagues,” but did not identify her by name or how she had died because of privacy concerns, according to the company.

LatinoJustice, a nonprofit legal defense fund, documented concerns about Cortes and employees at other supermarkets in an April 30 letter to the chief executive of Lidl US, a chain that owns Best Market and has about 100 stores in the U.S.

After receiving no response, LatinoJustice said it filed a complaint on May 12 with the New York state attorney general.

William Harwood, a Lidl spokesman, said the company had “no reports indicating that she was sick while working. Our policy is clear that employees who are sick should stay home.”

Marian Meszaros, a 63-year-old employee at the Best Market supermarket in Long Island’s Franklin Square in New York, said she believes a manager waited more than a week to inform her in late April that her co-worker in the cramped meat department had tested positive for the coronavirus.

She said the human resources manager offered her five days of paid leave, saying that it was sufficient time off because she had been exposed over a week ago and wasn’t showing symptoms. Meszaros said she believes the manager delayed informing her because the store had been so short-staffed, and she worried she could still get sick and infect her co-workers.

“I have nightmares about this,” Meszaros said. “No one in the store feels safe.”

The supermarket chain in March had announced a new pandemic-related policy that provides 14 days of paid leave to workers who test positive for the coronavirus, as well as paid leave for colleagues who came into close contact with them.

Harwood said the store immediately contacted Meszaros when it learned of the infected employee, and she was given five days off because it had been nine days since they had been in contact at the supermarket. The human resources team called Meszaros to ensure she had no symptoms prior to returning to work, Harwood said.

“We are taking significant steps to protect the health and safety of our team members during this public health emergency,” Harwood said.

Fear of retaliation

As infections have spread within supermarkets, employees at two national chains said that stores retaliated against them for speaking up about safety or discussing sick colleagues.

When a Target manager informed Michael Branss in late April that a co-worker in Palatine, Ill., had tested positive for the coronavirus, Branss said the manager also told him not to talk about the case.

A longtime employee, Branss worked in the back of the store where employees were in close proximity as they unloaded incoming merchandise.

Frustrated by the lack of information about the department where the infected employee had worked, Branss said, he called several colleagues and advised them to bring their own masks because the store didn’t always have enough. After noticing a missing co-worker, he and fellow employees discussed whether they had been exposed.

A few hours later, Branss said, he was called into the human resources office and reprimanded for talking about the sick employee. He was told the store was concerned about following federal privacy laws.

Fearing retaliation, he said he denied talking about the case. About 2½ weeks later, Branss said, Target fired him for refusing to answer questions for the store’s investigation of potential privacy violations.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. These are my friends, and I want them to be safe and healthy,” he said. “They punished me for trying to gather information to make a personal safety plan for myself.”

A Target spokeswoman, Danielle Schumann, said Branss was terminated “for conduct reasons unrelated to these claims” but provided no details.

In a Target store in Riverdale, N.J., employee Mary Jo Kalchthaler said workers are informed of their colleagues’ illnesses and deaths but are told not to discuss the cases publicly.

“Every store that I know of has had cases of covid-19, but they don’t want to spook people,” said Kalchthaler, who took a leave of absence in early May because she felt unsafe at work. “There are still people who think Target, Walmart and other food stores are magical kingdoms where everything is sterile and nobody has ever gotten sick, and that’s what they want people to keep thinking.”

Target did not respond to questions about allegations that employees were told not to discuss coronavirus cases. But Schumann said that “while being transparent, we’re also careful to keep team member privacy from being compromised.”

Some workers alleged they have been disciplined simply for raising safety concerns.

In early March, Kris King took two weeks off from his job at a Trader Joe’s in Louisville after coming down with a cough, fever and sore throat.

King said he created a private Facebook group for his colleagues to discuss frustrations with the store’s handling of the pandemic and to come up with recommendations to keep them safe. After he returned to work, a manager on March 21 confronted King about the Facebook messages and repeatedly encouraged him to quit, according to a lawsuit King has since filed against Trader Joe’s.

“He said, ‘If you don’t feel safe here, we can end this right now,’ ” King recalled in an interview.

A week later, King was terminated. Trader Joe’s cited multiple reasons, including the creation of the Facebook group, according to King.

“The safety of the people I work with is the most important thing, and that workers in this situation are able to be heard and have a voice,” said King, a 37-year-old with four children. “And that’s really just not happening.”

Trader Joe’s, which has 505 outlets nationwide and employs 50,000 people, has denied in court his claims, including that the supermarket “was not following appropriate safety measures” at the store.

“We have made it clear that Mr. King’s employment at Trader Joe’s did not end because of desire to set up a social media page or because he expressed concerns,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, a Trader Joe’s spokeswoman. “I have been clear that . . . for privacy reasons I am not at liberty to say more.”

Jon Tenholder, a Trader Joe’s employee at the same Louisville store, received a written disciplinary warning on May 10, roughly two weeks after Tenholder spoke with customers about the Kentucky governor’s order that only one person per household at a time be permitted inside a grocery store.

Management accused Tenholder of making customers uncomfortable by saying they shouldn’t be shopping together. Tenholder refused to sign the incident report and described it in a written rebuttal as “retaliation” for asserting that employees “deserve to be the central voice of our safety.”

Friend-Daniel disputed Tenholder’s account but declined to comment further, citing privacy laws.

“We don’t retaliate against people for sharing concerns or for trivial reasons,” Friend-Daniel said.

‘A much better job’

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, has touted its response to the pandemic from the start, including a policy that allowed its 1.5 million U.S. employees to take up to two weeks off if they were exposed to the coronavirus, and waived attendance policies for workers who felt uncomfortable or unable to work.

Shortly after the policy was announced on March 10, Kyle Quiros and his wife, Rebekkah, took jobs as temporary workers at a Walmart in Medina, Ohio. By mid-April, Kyle, who was born with one kidney and has other health problems, had a fever and was vomiting frequently. He said he tested negative for the coronavirus, but a physician recommended he stay home for two weeks.

Rebekkah also fell ill. When she returned to work, she said, a supervisor informed her that she was being let go because she had called in sick too many times. A few days later, Kyle came back to work but was sent home because he had a temperature of about 100 degrees. He soon received a call saying his employment was over, despite several weeks left on his contract.

“It was unfair. I was fired because I was sick, even though they have a policy saying you wouldn’t get fired,” he said.

Lopez, the Walmart spokesman, said Rebekkah Quiros was terminated “for performance reasons unrelated to any request for time off due to the pandemic.” He said he “had not been provided with enough information to substantiate” allegations made by Kyle Quiros.

Other Walmart employees also told The Post that workers fear calling in sick because they did not want to jeopardize their jobs.

“These claims are not consistent with the experiences of the more than 235,000 people recently employed by Walmart or the countless other associates that have been able to utilize our emergency leave policy to stay home and keep their jobs protected,” Lopez said.

But in Quincy, days before Lee, the Walmart greeter, was rushed to the hospital on April 20, she told family and friends that she was worried she could lose her job because she was sick and needed time off, said her daughter, Elaine Eklund.

After Lee died, Walmart officials put out a statement saying the company was “mourning alongside their family.” Since then, messages have streamed in from colleagues and longtime shoppers remembering the grandmother of two.

“I worried about her the last time I saw her in the store,” one stranger said in a handwritten letter.

Source: The Washington Post

McLaughlin to members: Stay vigilant as states reopen

In a telephonic town hall on May 20, UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin called on union members to remain vigilant as Arizona, New Mexico and Utah begin to relax their guidelines in response to the COVOD-19 pandemic.

President McLaughlin also provided updates on a range of issues concerning members, including abusive behaviors by customers; resources to alleviate stress and anxiety; hazard bonuses and appreciation pay; and the dangers of misinformation spread on social media.

‘Be aware out there’

Noting that “we’re now 11 weeks into the national emergency guidelines and the atmosphere in the stores is still a whirlwind and changing sometimes daily,” McLaughlin cautioned members to “be aware out there!”

He said with Arizona taking steps to reopen its economy, workers in stores must continue to be vigilant to avoid a spike in new cases of COVID-19.

“Our need to be diligent is critical to mitigate frustrations and keep ourselves and our customers safe,” McLaughlin said.

He urged members to use the wash stations and sanitizers and to continue wearing masks and using other personal protective equipment.

“Local 99 staff have been distributing masks and hand sanitizer,” he said. “We will hand them out until we have exhausted our supply. Please look for your rep in the store to see if they have any left.”

“In some stores we wish the plexiglass could be bigger, but we are still looking for solutions and asking the companies to make the stores more secure,” President McLaughlin said. “In the meantime, when a customer does not stand behind the glass, politely remind them it’s there – or move so you’re behind it.

“This is a new way of thinking for all of us, and especially for people who are only in the stores for a fraction of time that you’re in the stores,” he continued.

He said Local 99 representatives are handing out “#ESSENTIAL” buttons. “These buttons give a positive identification on the membership,” he continued. “Wear them to show we are united to protect you and the community.”

McLaughlin also announced Arizona will be extending its statewide COVID-19 testing blitz for two more weekends.

“Anyone who thinks that they have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 can get tested based on the criteria at each location,” he said. “Drive-through testing will be available at certain sites.”

He urged members to visit https://www.azdhs.gov to learn about testing sites, hours of operation, pricing and registration.

‘Verbal abuse should not be tolerated’

“We know of the irate customers who are frustrated and choose to take their frustrations out on you for no reason,” McLaughlin said. “Or maybe it’s because they can’t find toilet paper or the store has run out of meat. One thing for certain is verbal abuse should not be tolerated.”

Whenever members encounter abuse by shoppers or anyone else, they should “let your manager know about it,” he said. “And if they don’t respond, call your union rep.”

McLaughlin also advised members not to take such confrontations by customers personally.

“It has nothing to do with you,” he said. “Some customers have lost their jobs or are on furlough and some have had it up to the limit at home.”

Nevertheless, “We are having regular discussions with the company around safety for our members in the stores,” he said. “These incidents should be taken seriously.”

Countering stress and anxiety

Noting that stress and anxiety can take a physical and a mental toll on union members, President McLaughlin described resources available through Local 99’s Employee Membership Assistance Program and HMC.

“We have telephonic medicine with Teladoc, as well as many different resources to help with issues relating to anxiety, depression and the many other effects this pandemic has on ourselves and our families,” he said.

He encouraged union members to visit ufcw99.com and click on the links to resources.

Hazard bonuses and appreciation pay

President McLaughlin provided an update on how Fry’s and Safeway are rewarding their employees for their courageous service throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Safeway is continuing its $2 per hour premium through the end of May, he said. Fry’s is paying a bonus of $200-$400 split between two payments. The bonuses some members will receive almost equate to a $2 per hour raise.

“If you have any questions, see your rep,” he said.

“We don’t know how long the pay will last, but we will push your companies to pay this as long as we can,” McLaughlin said. “The hazard is still out there, and pay should go with it. It’s important that you are compensated accordingly.”

Handling social media with care

President McLaughlin called on Local 99 members to refrain from criticizing their employers on social media.

“People are saying how terrible their company or their manager is,” he said. “Unfortunately, the companies monitor such posts. Don’t get yourself into trouble because you need to vent on social media.

“Everybody is watching — your friends, your family and management. Be aware of what you share.”

Industry negotiations

Responding to a question about upcoming negotiations, McLaughlin said talks with Fry’s and Safeway will begin late in the summer. Local 99 will prepare by communicating with members through additional telephonic town halls, as well as voice and email blasts, text messages, social media posts, website updates, the 99Report magazine, postcards and other publications.

Union representatives will be in the stores for face-to-face conversations and questionnaires will be sent to the members to ascertain their goals in the negotiations.

“We are in unprecedented times,” he said. “Never in our history have we seen a situation like this. It’s hard to know how these new challenges will play a role in negotiations, but they will.

“One thing we do know is this pandemic has shown how critical our members are to each of the communities we serve.”

Questions and answers

The town hall continued with Secretary-Treasurer Stan Chavira fielding questions from the membership.

“The companies hired a bunch of new people and now that things are slowing down, they are starting to cut hours,” he said. “Some of the new hires are getting more hours than a senior employee. Senior members have protections with scheduling and seniority. Call your rep to fix any situation in the store dealing with seniority rights.

“There are new faces in the stores, which is great, but we just need to protect everybody, and we will defend seniority rights and select a schedule. It’s in your contract and your union rep can help with that.”

Conclusion: ‘You are not alone’

“Just because things may seem to be getting less restrictive, we need to stay the course,” President McLaughlin said in his concluding comments.

“Now is not the time to let our guards down. Our members must be even more vigilant as restrictions relax and customers come into the stores more frequently.

“We must continue to wash our hands, to wear masks or face coverings and continue social distancing.”

“I am more and more proud of the members of this union with every passing day,” he said.

“Always know you are not alone. You have thousands and thousands of union sisters and brothers and we are in this together — always.

“We continue to thank you for your courage, and we applaud your sacrifice.

“Remember: Not all heroes wear capes-some wear aprons.

“Thank you for your hard work and commitment!”

The best part of my supermarket job was the people. Now, they’re the worst part.

That’s the worst part of my job now.

These days, you can’t help but see strangers in terms of risk. The store allows 100 customers inside at a time, which doesn’t seem like a lot. But when I do the math, it makes me nervous: Over a shift, I can deal with as many as 1,000 people — and all it takes is one cough. I keep imagining the air picking it up and carrying a droplet right into my eye. Being a cashier is even more dangerous, because they’re dealing with many more people, face to face, touching the things they have touched. The stress takes a toll. A lot of people quit because they or their loved ones are fearful. When I get home, I spray myself down with Lysol so I don’t spread the virus to my family.

As a front-end manager, I manage employees and direct the public in the store, so I’m used to dealing with disgruntled customers. I’m black and 28 years old (which is relatively young for this position), so people often assume that I don’t know what I’m doing. To them, I don’t look the part: I should be bagging their groceries, not reviewing their receipts when they dispute a transaction.

In pandemic times, that disregard shows up in sad and scary ways — often in how customers ignore new store policies. For example, we now clean the cash register, pin pad and conveyor belt with industrial disinfectant after each customer. We do this for their safety, and ours. But some people just don’t care. They throw their items down on the belt before the checkout clerk finishes. Sometimes it’s because they’re impatient, but other times it seems more purposeful — like they’re trying to rebel, showing us how little they think of us and our rules. It’s not necessarily a racial issue; some people don’t want to be bossed around by someone who they think has a lower social status. Who gave us the right to tell them what to do?

Some people have lashed out at the requirement that customers wear masks indoors. One shopper refused to listen, even after multiple associates told her she had to put one on — and she got mad about it. She got up in people’s faces, shouting at them. That’s not a fun experience, even in normal times, but now, it’s dangerous — you can just imagine the little droplets flying everywhere. It took four of us employees to get her to calm down, and she wouldn’t leave until we threatened to call the police. My co-workers and I read stories about customers attacking employees at Target and McDonald’s, or see footage of people bringing guns to state capitols, and it scares us. You never know how or when someone will lash out.

On some level, I understand where they’re coming from. When the coronavirus first came to the United States, the government said masks mostly weren’t necessary. Then, all of that changed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended masks in early April, so I started wearing one. At first, one of my supervisors tried to get me to take it off, saying I looked like a criminal or a terrorist. Later on, our store gave out masks to employees. A lack of knowledge makes people afraid, and fear drives people crazy.

Little things that ordinarily wouldn’t bother people really bother them now. When one shopper gets too close to another one, they freak out. It’s hard to keep everyone calm, to tell them there’s no need to yell. Our county has one of the highest case counts in the state, so customers and employees alike have been hypersensitive. They act more aggressively when they feel threatened or when someone is in their space.

Every day, I talk down shoppers upset about not getting toilet paper or meat or something else they’ve been looking for. It’s not just us responsible for stocking the shelves, I say. It’s the workers who make the product, the people who bring it to the warehouse, the people who make deliveries to our stores — a whole supply chain that’s getting disrupted by illness, because people are getting sick. That’s the most common challenge of my day: getting customers to have some perspective. People are dying out there. They can deal with a little inconvenience.

But you also see the good in people. We have one regular customer who comes in with a big sign that says “Thank you!” She walks all the way to self-checkout, at the far end of the store, and claps for and thanks each person at each register. A lot of shoppers are really grateful for our work, and they try to leave us tips, though our store policy doesn’t allow us to accept them. (If the customer is persistent, I’ll give it to another employee or use it to buy them a little refreshment or a snack.)

I wish more people knew that grocery store employees take care of the community. I wish we had Plexiglas at our work stations, and more protective equipment. I wish we had professional security — that it wasn’t up to the clerks to account for the public’s behavior. I wish people had a more united approach to this crisis, and tried harder to understand the reasons behind public safety rules. These rules aren’t about bossing shoppers around. They’re about all of us looking out for each other’s health.

Our work feeds thousands, and none of us get paid much to do it. Most of us don’t have much choice: It’s either go to work or go hungry. We’re on the front lines, unprotected in almost every aspect. We’re vulnerable to the virus, and we’re vulnerable to other human beings.

Source: The Washington Post

Grocery workers are everyday heroes during coronavirus crisis

Each night at 7 p.m. here in New York, something wonderful happens on my block in Queens and on streets all over the city. After a busy day at my laptop working from home, I start to hear a random banging of pots outside my window that morphs into a full-on cacophony of joyful jangling, car horns, whistles and whoops from my neighbors that ends with a loudspeaker blaring Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and an enthusiastic singalong. Just part of life in the new COVID-19 reality.

The nightly celebration — and stress relief — began shortly after the city’s coronavirus lockdown began in mid-March, as a way for homebound residents to recognize and cheer our support for the first responders and essential workers  who continue to serve us all during this crisis. And along with healthcare workers, police and EMTs, that includes the grocery workers who have been on the front lines since day one.

It’s no cliché to call these workers heroes. From the beginning of this crisis, supermarkets have been our one constant source of some relief, providing Americans with the essentials we need to get through the long days — now, weeks — with some semblance of normalcy. And the millions of frontline grocery workers who stock the shelves, sanitize the stores, ring up the customers, deliver groceries and so much more have been putting in brutal hours in a challenging environment dealing with a frightened — and sometimes frightening — public.

And a majority of Americans agree with that assessment, saying that, during the pandemic, their admiration has increased for essential workers more than it has for their own family and friends. A survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Reputation Leaders and Over the Horizon Strategies finds that healthcare workers are currently admired the most (80%), but very closely followed by grocery store workers (77%), and delivery drivers (73%), reflecting a true appreciation for those working on the frontline during the pandemic.

“We cannot thank and appreciate our associates enough,” said Dacona Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Walmart U.S., the nation’s largest retailer and employer of more than 1.4 million workers. “What they have accomplished in the last few weeks has been amazing to watch and fills everyone at our company with enormous pride. America is getting the chance to see what we’ve always known — that our people truly do make the difference. Let’s all take care of each other out there.”

This week, two Pennsylvania congressmen introduced new legislation to provide tax relief to grocery and other food workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill (H.R. 6841) would provide a federal tax holiday and a payroll tax exemption for all essential employees in the food and agriculture industry, as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security.

H.R. 6841 marks an extension to the Giving Retailers and Our Convenience Employees Relief (GROCER) Act, which Thompson and Evans introduced on April 21. That bill (H.R. 6567) called for a federal tax relief period for grocery and convenience store employees amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“We need to help the workers who are keeping America fed during this crisis,” Evans said. “This bipartisan bill [H.R. 6841] would complement our proposed GROCER Act by helping even more of the people who are doing just that, and I believe it’s something that most of us should be able to agree on.”

We at Supermarket News applaud and appreciate the heroic work being done by America’s grocery workers. Stay safe and stay strong.

Source: Supermarket News

Stores Stress Over How to Handle a Customer Who Won’t Wear a Mask

Retail chains from CVS to 7-Eleven are being forced to decide whether and how to enforce rules on masks after a string of attacks on clerks and security guards by patrons who refused to cover their faces.

As more cities, states and businesses require customers to cover up in stores, face coverings have become a flashpoint in the debate over how to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some opponents of forced shutdowns and social-distancing requirements are flouting mask mandates, leaving grocers, drugstore chains and big-box retailers to weigh public-health requirements against the risk of putting their workers in harm’s way.

This month’s fatal shooting of a security guard in Flint, Mich., following a face-mask dispute with a customer is the most extreme case of violence around the issue, but it isn’t an isolated incident. Assaults on store personnel have been reported at retailers across the country, from a Target in Southern California to a 7-Eleven convenience store in northern Indiana.

“It’s not my job to enforce masks—I’m not a manager.”

— Kroger employee Shaunte Wisch-Thompson

“It gets pretty confrontational. People are getting in our faces and are really angry with our managers and employees when it’s not our rule,” said Shaunte Wisch-Thompson, who works at a Kroger in Streator, Ill., a small town about 100 miles southwest of Chicago.

An executive order by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandates masks in public when people can’t maintain distance from one another. Ms. Wisch-Thompson said one man refused her request that he don a mask, saying he didn’t vote for the governor. She said she tries to reason with shoppers but doesn’t force the issue. “It’s not my job to enforce masks—I’m not a manager.”

Retailers are taking varied approaches. Some chains have advised workers to let mask-less customers in despite state and local laws, while others are drawing a harder line on site or directing workers to call local law enforcement if a shopper breaks the rule.

Costco Wholesale Corp. faced angry critics and a boycott after the warehouse retail chain said earlier this month that all customers must wear a mask, whether or not one is required by local governments. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone more than 2 years of age wear cloth face coverings in public places, such as stores, where social distancing is difficult.

“There are strong feelings on both sides. We do the best we can in making the right decision,” Costco finance chief Richard Galanti said. “If it’s the right decision, we help reduce the spread of this terrible virus. If it’s the wrong decision, it’s a relatively small inconvenience.”

Not enforcing face-mask rules also comes with risks, and not just to the health of workers and patrons. A CVS pharmacy in Fresno, Calif., was put on notice by local code enforcers who, in responding to a complaint earlier this month, found an unmasked shopper inside the drugstore.

“It’s up to the business to decide how best to get the customer out,” said Mark Standriff, communications director for the city of Fresno, which mandates that businesses require customers to wear masks inside stores. Especially in a drugstore, frequented by the sick and elderly, keeping faces covered is critical, Mr. Standriff said. “This is just like having to deal with any unruly customer.”

“There are strong feelings on both sides. We do the best we can in making the right decision.”

— Costco finance chief Richard Galanti

But CVS Health Corp. , in a policy mirrored by competitors Walgreens Boots Alliance Co. and Rite Aid Corp. , has told its workers not to refuse service to noncompliant patrons.

In cities and states where masks are required, CVS puts up signs reminding customers of the rule, a spokesman said. Store managers are told to refer to the signage if a shopper comes in without a mask.

If the customer refuses, “our priority is to help them complete their purchases as quickly as possible and provide them with information about other options we have available for their future needs,” the spokesman said.

The company, he said, takes that approach to avoid potentially contentious or violent interactions between employees and customers. “It strikes the proper balance between complying with local requirements while also protecting employees who are on the front lines,” he said, adding that the chain has experienced few incidents.

Rite Aid and Walgrees also said they direct employees to avoid confrontations with customers.

Target Corp. requires face masks in places where there are local or state mandates, a spokesman said. The company added funding to supplement staffing or to hire off-duty police officers to enforce rules at store entrances. Workers may call local law enforcement in cases where masks are required and a customer refuses to comply, the spokesman said.

Retailers say conflict is rare, and people generally comply without incident. Flare-ups, however, happen.

The shooting in Flint at a Family Dollar occurred May 1 after a security guard confronted a woman entering the store with her daughter. The woman was wearing a mask, but the daughter, in her 20s, wasn’t, according to the local prosecutor.

The woman yelled and spit at the guard, who ordered the woman to leave the store and told a cashier not to serve her, according to the prosecutor’s office. The woman drove home and returned with her husband and her son, who shot the guard in the back of the head following a confrontation, the prosecutor said.

Family Dollar parent Dollar Tree Inc. directs stores to ensure customers are wearing masks in places where local authorities require them, a Dollar Tree spokesman said. He declined to provide the company’s protocol for enforcing those rules. “We are going to comply where they are required,” he said, as was the case in Michigan.

Less than two weeks later, a security guard at a Target in Van Nuys, Calif., suffered a broken arm in a physical confrontation with two men who refused to wear masks in the store.

In St. Clair Shores, Mich., a woman was charged after allegedly assaulting a grocery store employee and spitting on police officers after being told to leave because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Police in Mishawaka, Ind., are investigating an incident this week in which a male patron of a 7-Eleven threw a cup of coffee at a clerk who refused to serve him because he wasn’t wearing a mask. The man left and then returned. When the clerk again asked him to leave, he knocked her to the ground and punched and kicked her before leaving again, police said.

Even the strictest face-mask mandates generally make allowances, in line with CDC guidelines, for people with health issues that could make it difficult for them to breathe in a mask or to put on or remove a covering.

Determining that need presents another potential complication for retailers.

“We are not in a position to decide who does and does not fall into this category in our stores,” said a spokeswoman for Hy-Vee Inc., a Midwest chain of more than 240 supermarkets.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

US grocery costs jump the most in 46 years, led by rising prices for meat and eggs

Prices Americans paid for eggs, meat, cereal and milk shot higher in April as people flocked to grocery stores to stock up on food amid government lockdowns designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that prices U.S. consumers paid for groceries jumped 2.6% in April, the largest one-month pop since February 1974. The spike in supermarket prices was broad based and impacted items from broccoli and ham to oatmeal and tuna.

The price of the meats, poultry, fish and eggs category rose 4.3%, fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%, cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%, and dairy goods gained 1.5%.

The grocery numbers stand in stark contrast to the broader trend in U.S. prices, which fell 0.8% in April and clinched their largest one-month decline since 2008 as a swoon in oil and gasoline dragged the headline CPI number lower.

“Food price gains were robust as we know there are empty shelves out there,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, wrote in an email. “Demand we know in most areas of the economy has collapsed and prices are falling in response.”

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, so-called core CPI dropped 0.4%, its largest slump ever through records kept since 1957.

“In areas where demand has hung in, like ‘food at home’ we have inflation because the supply side has been damaged, whether directly via infected facilities or because of the higher costs of finding freight capacity,” Boockvar added.

Source: CNBC

Who’s Enforcing Mask Rules? Often Retail Workers, and They’re Getting Hurt

The exchange was tense between the customer and Jesse, a Trader Joe’s employee sporting a white face mask and a flowery Hawaiian shirt.

“Why aren’t you wearing the mask?” Jesse asked the customer on a recent day at a store in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “I am not here to question what you believe in. These are the rules. I am just asking you kindly to wear the mask.”

The customer, Genevieve Powers, who was recording the entire exchange, refused. “We are in America here,” she said, “Land of the free.” Then she turned her camera on other shoppers, who were less than amused: “Look at all of these sheep that are here, all wearing this mask that is actually dangerous for them.”

Jesse, identified only by his first name in the video, telephoned the police, who did not arrive. Finally, when Ms. Powers left the store, others customers burst into applause.

As more parts of the country reopen businesses, many retail workers have reluctantly turned into de facto enforcers of public health guidelines, confronting customers who refuse to wear masks or to maintain a wide distance from others. The risk of a violent reaction now hangs over jobs already fraught with health perils.

A Target employee in Van Nuys, Calif., ended up with a broken left arm after helping to remove two customers who refused to wear masks.

A cashier told a man refusing to wear a mask that he could not buy a pack of cigars at a convenience store in Perkasie, Pa. He punched her three times in the face.

In San Antonio, a man who was told he could not board a public bus without a mask shot a passenger, the police said. The victim was hospitalized and the gunman was arrested.

And in a confrontation that turned deadly, the security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Mich., was shot and killed after insisting that a customer put on a mask.

Meegan Holland, the spokeswoman for the Michigan Retailers Association, said stores were caught in the middle. “People can get belligerent when being asked to do something that they do not want to do,” she said.

Masks have been recommended by public health officials as a key way to diminish the spread of the coronavirus, with at least a dozen states requiring them and many others issuing a hodgepodge of county or municipal orders.

They have also turned into a flash point in the country’s culture wars, with some defending their right to not wear one.

“We have individual rights, we don’t have community rights,” said Ms. Powers, 56, the customer at the Trader Joe’s store, in an interview this week.

Public health experts said this argument was misguided.

“I never had a right to do something that could injure the health of my neighbors,” said Wendy E. Parmet, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University.

Mask opponents generally overlook the fact that such regulations are meant to protect other people, not the person wearing the mask, she added.

Americans are navigating a patchwork of conflicting national and local guidance on masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, initially downplayed the efficacy of masks but now recommends them.

And they have become a ready symbol for those dubious about giving government officials wide powers for an extended period.

Retailers find the confrontations over masks a minefield.

“It is a very hot button issue,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, a spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s. The company declined to allow Jesse, the employee involved in the confrontation, to be interviewed.

“We do not want to put our crew members in the position to have to enforce something like that,” she said, noting that customers “overwhelmingly” wear masks.

In all its 505 stores, Trader Joe’s has put up signs recommending that customers wear masks, not least to protect its employees, Ms. Friend-Daniel said.

Refusing is not grounds alone for being ejected from a store, she said, even where wearing masks in public is the law, but creating a disturbance that bothers other customers is.

Target, in places where masks are the law, has stationed security employees outside its stores to remind customers to wear them, said Jake Anderson, a spokesman.

Stores are not the only businesses involved. Uber announced that starting Monday, drivers and riders must wear masks, and those who refuse can be kicked off the platform.

Smaller retailers feel especially vulnerable to balancing the need for safety and the need to revive their bottom line.

In Charleston, S.C., at M. Dumas & Sons, a 103-year-old men’s clothing store, employees wear masks in line with a city requirement while customers are offered them at the front door.

Gary Flynn, the owner, estimated that 50 percent of his customers would walk away if required to wear a mask.

“I want whatever I can get right now,” he said, with business inching up but still only 25 percent of what it was a year ago.

He acknowledged that his workers were putting themselves in harm’s way to generate sales. “So it’s a slippery slope and it’s a moral challenge every day to try to figure out what’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Farther up King Street, Las Olas Swimwear boutique was doing brisk business in bathing suits for beach-starved customers, as well as face masks. The store has sold more than 500 masks produced by a New York swimwear supplier.

Daniel James, the owner, stated unequivocally that he would fire any employee not wearing a face mask, but said masks were voluntary for customers.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made masks mandatory in late April and allowed stores to bar customers who refused. But she did not criminalize such refusals, so police have only intervened when confrontations turned violent.

In Illinois, Rob Karr, the president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, compiled a list of episodes that took place in the first 48 hours after masks became mandatory on May 1.

One customer threatened to get a gun from his car to shoot the worker insisting that he wear a mask. Several employees were hit, while others were verbally abused. Sometimes customers fought each other. The list has only grown longer.

Some police departments refused to respond when stores asked for help, Mr. Karr said, while various retailers were fined $750 for not enforcing the ban.

In Warwick, R.I., a police union initially announced on its Facebook page that it would not enforce Gov. Gina Raimondo’s mandatory mask order, calling it “overreaching” and bound to destroy the bridge of trust built with the community. The police chief then issued a statement saying the department would act.

Lawrence O. Gostin, the Georgetown University professor who wrote the draft public health law adopted by many states, suggested that in the absence of national guidelines, retailers should develop one policy for all their stores and stick with it, whether it has the backing of state law or not — that way the rules would be clear for all customers.

Some experts also suggested it was overkill to involve police in the general enforcement of public health measures.

The issue should be treated like wearing seatbelts or not smoking in public, which eventually became habits, Ms. Parmet suggested, but such consensus must develop much more quickly given the danger from Covid-19.

In Hawaii, that consensus is emerging because neighbors are confronting anti-maskers themselves, said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

“It is the other customers in the stores that are shaming them to put it back on or commenting,” she said.

Ms. Yamaki compared the mask dilemma to trying to ensure that a young child keeps wearing a hat — one minute it is on, and the next minute, after you look away, it disappears.

“We cannot be policing that all the time,” she said of the masks. “We are not that type of law enforcement.”

Source: The New York Times

Arizona Enrichment Centers To Offer Child Care To Grocery Store, Food Bank Employees

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey announced today that the Arizona Enrichment Centers Program will expand to offer prioritized child care for the children of grocery store employees and food bank workers. Enrichment Centers have already been providing child care for first responders, critical health care workers and essential public sector workers serving others as Arizona works to slow the spread of COVID-19. The program will also continue to offer prioritized care and scholarships to eligible families through the end of July.

“Arizona’s food bank and grocery store employees continue to step up to ensure our shelves are stocked and Arizonans have access to critical goods,” said Governor Ducey. “This expansion is made possible by the continued partnership of child care providers across the state. My thanks to all our partners in the Enrichment Centers Program and the frontline workers helping to protect public health during COVID-19.”

In early April, the Governor’s Office partnered with the Arizona Departments of Education, Economic Security, Health Services and Administration as well as First Things First, the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, the Government Transformation Office, local child care providers and nonprofit, education and faith-based organizations to offer child care through Arizona Enrichment Centers. To date:

  • 426 providers have registered as Enrichment Centers in 52 cities across the state;
  • 3,318 families of critical health care and essential public sector workers have qualified for priority child care, and can now access the care that best fits their needs;
  • And 2,321 families have qualified for a child care scholarship.

Those eligible for child care through an Enrichment Center can register for priority child care eligibility and financial support by filling out this registration form. All Enrichment Center sites will follow the CDC Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs, the ADHS Child Care Facility COVID-19 Guidance, as well as guidance issued by local public health departments. Approved Enrichment Centers are listed on the Arizona Enrichment Centers website.

More information is available HERE, and questions can be emailed to AZEnrichmentCenters@az.gov.

ArizonaTogether.org includes additional information about child care and other resources for families, individuals and businesses.

VP Mike Pence to Food Industry: This Could Be ‘Your Finest Hour’

A panel of leaders from across the food industry, including the CEOs of Hy-Vee, The Kroger Co., Smithfield and Tyson, along with other representatives of the U.S. farm industry, met with Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary  of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and other elected officials in Iowa last week to deliver a message of the importance of an operating U.S. food supply chain amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The presentation illustrated the fragility of a disrupted supply chain brought about by the pandemic—with effects reaching from family farms to factories and the grocery store—as well as areas where the affected parties could work together to address one another’s economic distress while continuing to assure a safe and adequate supply of food.

The May 8 roundtable event, which was hosted in Hy-Vee’s hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa, and livestreamed by PBS, was overshadowed by media coverage showing footage of some executives, including Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and Smithfield’s Ken Sullivan, being asked to remove their face coverings shortly before Pence arrived at the table. Just hours before, Pence had been informed his press secretary had tested positive for COVID-19 and after the meeting, he reportedly spent the weekend in isolation at his home.

The food industry leaders then proceeded to praise the federal government’s participation in making their workplaces safer through assistance in obtaining personal protective equipment, such as masks that they are now requiring their workers to wear. The vice president in turn praised the companies and their workers as heroes and told them their response to the pandemic would be remembered by history.

“I think this may well turn out to be your finest hour, a time when an industry stepped up and met the moment, and at some personal risk to themselves,” Pence said. “Whether it be people working in the meat processing plant or people running a cash register or people traveling around the country driving trucks, or people working in warehouses—people that have considered others more important than themselves, [have] risen to the challenge.”

The meeting took place as some meat facilities impacted by high rates of coronavirus outbreaks among workers were reopening, including a Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa, that reopened last week. These plants were compelled to reopen through the imposition of the Defense Production Act by President Donald Trump late last month.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) framed the debate for farmers by noting that Americans “were nine meals away from rioting for food” and acknowledging the “economic and emotional distress” associated with farmers who’ve been forced to euthanize animals that could not get to processing facilities. “People are crying to us, ‘How come we’re losing hundreds of dollars on our cattle and the price to consumers are going up?’ It’s hard for them to understand that,” Grassley said. “There are people that should share in that distress and they ought to explain how these anomalies happen.”

Sullivan of Smithfield said he’d just gotten word that a worker at one of its plants had died of the virus before the meeting and took his time to thank employees.

“Everyone takes for granted that grocery stores should be open, police should be on the job, doctors and nurses should be on the job, but for some reason people don’t fully understand or appreciate [meatpacking plants],” he said. “It’s gut-wrenching for us as companies to have a choice between maintaining the food supply in this country and asking employees to go into plants to do that. So I just want the American people to know that the employees really deserve a lot of gratitude.”

McMullen of Kroger said the retailer was doing its part to help its suppliers manage through the “heart-wrenching” disruption by placing quantity limits on meat purchases. He also highlighted Kroger’s effort to help other business learn from its own example of operating through the pandemic.

“We were finding a lot of customers stockpiling and buying way more than was needed, so we had to put limits on it,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the plants being back open so we can take those limits off and people can get comfortable buying what’s needed and we can our supply chain working together.”

Kroger is also “very involved” in testing efforts for the coronavirus, noting the company has made agreements with Smithfield and JBS meat plants in Ohio to help them test workers at Kroger-hosted drive-up facilities. The company has also worked with Microsoft to create a technology that helps its workers assess their own need to be tested, he said.

Randy Edeker CEO of Hy-Vee, remarked upon the irony of COVID-19’s effects on a food retailing industry that was already in massive throes of change.

“On the food retail side there’s been a couple of buzzwords for some time, and that’s evolution and disruption,” he said. “Our whole business has been constantly evolving and very disrupted—and then COVID-19 happened.”

Edeker noted, however, “that from hardship and crisis can come great innovation,” saying that collaboration between parties can address aspects of the supply chain that have become points of stress in the pandemic, such as “just-in-time” inventory and a dual supply chain serving food retail and restaurant users separately. That’s been an important takeaway for Hy-Vee, which has devoted much of its energies in recent years to capturing a food-away-from-home business, which, until the pandemic struck, was outgrowing at-home channels. Edeker highlighted partnerships with foodservice distributors such as Sysco that have begun to address needs of the supermarket channel during the crisis.

Edeker predicted that “a great resourcefulness” would be one of the lasting impacts of the crisis. “We have found new efficiencies, new ways of doing things that will last and will be here forever. It will change how we do things, so I think that out of this crisis will come some good in the end.”

Source: Winsight Grocery Business

UFCW: Trump Order to Re-Open 14 Meatpacking Plants Fails to Increase Coronavirus Testing and Safety Measures Needed to Protect Food Supply & Workers

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Calls Rush to Re-Open Plants Without Safety Improvements Dangerous Move for Long-Term Security of U.S. Food Supply Chain

Union Announces 30 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, 40 Percent Drop in Pork Production Capacity, 25 Percent Drop in Beef Production Capacity

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) – which represents more than 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers across the country raised serious safety issues with the re-opening of 14 meatpacking plants under the recent executive order by President Trump, highlighting hazards at these facilities that put workers and the food supply at risk. The meatpacking plants re-opening this week include facilities in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers are putting their lives on the line every day to make sure our families have the food they need during this pandemic. Meatpacking plants did not close because anyone wants them to close. These plants closed because at least 30 workers died and more than 10,000 workers have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.

“Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.

“Since the executive order was announced by President Trump, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants. We are calling on the White House to end the delays and immediately mandate that all meatpacking companies provide the highest level of protective equipment, ensure daily testing is available for all meatpacking workers, enforce physical distancing at all plants, provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected, and establish constant monitoring by federal inspectors to ensure these safety standards are enforced. We cannot wait any longer.”

Background:

UFCW recently sent a letter to Vice President Pence urgently calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize five safety actions targeted toward the meatpacking industry, including: (1) increased worker testing, (2) priority access to PPE, (3) halting line speed waivers, (4) mandating social distancing, and (5) isolating workers with symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

Today, new internal UFCW estimates have confirmed at least 30 meatpacking worker deaths. The union also announced that new estimates show at least 30 meatpacking plants have closed at some point in the past two months. These closures have resulted in over 45,000 workers impacted and a 40 percent reduction in pork slaughter capacity as well as a 25 percent reduction in beef slaughter capacity 

This comes as the Trump Administration announced that operations are resuming this past week at the 14 meatpacking facilities listed below:

  • Tyson Perry, Iowa (pork)
  • Tyson Waterloo, Iowa (pork)
  • Tyson Logansport, Indiana (pork)
  • Tyson Robards, Kentucky (poultry)
  • Tyson Portland, Maine (further processor)
  • Tyson Pasco, Washington (beef)
  • Tyson Dakota City, Nebraska (beef)
  • Aurora Packing, Aurora, Illinois (beef)
  • JBS Green Bay, Wisconsin (beef)
  • JBS Worthington, Minnesota (pork)
  • Smithfield Monmouth, Illinois (pork)
  • Smithfield Sioux Falls, South Dakota (pork)
  • Indiana Packers, Indiana (pork)
  • Jennie-O Turkey Store, Willmar, Minnesota (poultry)

The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org.