But the workers’ leverage with their employers may be waning. The pay cuts are happening as the climate for recruiting new workers is changing.

The additional $600-a-week supplement that unemployed workers have been receiving from the federal government may be deterring some people from going back to work. With that benefit set to expire later this month, retailers are likely to find a larger pool of applicants, making pay raises less needed to recruit new employees.

“When they first put in these pay raises, the companies were afraid their workers were going to walk out the door,” said Marc Perrone, international president of the U.F.C.W. “Now there is near record high unemployment and people need jobs.”

But ending pay raises could backfire on companies that are trying to keep their store safe as coronavirus cases grow.

Cathy Maerz, who works at the deli counter at the Stop & Shop in Medford, N.Y., said some younger employees had started to resist wearing their masks after the company phased out premium pay this month.

“They are telling me, I am not wearing my mask if they are not going to give us this pay,” said Ms. Maerz, 57. “I tell them ‘it’s mandatory, you are going to get written up’ and they say, ‘I don’t care.’”

At the start of the pandemic, Ms. Maerz worked seven days a week to fill in for co-workers who were too vulnerable or nervous to come to work. The panic-buying may be over, she said, but her store is still busier than normal.

“I could understand if this was some small business, like a tanning salon, that had all this debt and couldn’t afford pay raises,” she said. “But this is a multi-billion corporation. They have the money.”

Source: The New York Times