America’s Largest Food and Retail Union Condemns Kroger Escalation of Attack on Essential Workers by Closing Grocery Stores After Los Angeles Mandates COVID Hazard Pay
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential frontline workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other critical industries, condemned Kroger’s action to close additional grocery stores in Southern California, threatening the food supply for communities hit hard by the region’s more than 130 COVID-19 grocery store outbreaks and destroying the jobs of hundreds of essential grocery workers. This comes just weeks after similar Kroger store closures in Seattle and Long Beach in retaliation against local hazard pay measures to deny essential workers this vital support as they continue to face risks of COVID infection on the frontlines of the pandemic.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Kroger has made billions in pandemic profits thanks to essential grocery workers in California and across the country. Kroger’s action today is a cruel attack on essential workers and threatens the food supply for California communities devastated by the explosion of COVID-19 infections in recent months. Essential workers in grocery stores are putting their health at risk every day to make sure families can put food on the table and city leaders are stepping up to ensure they have the hazard pay they have earned.
“When grocery chains do not provide workers with critical PPE like N95 masks, grocery workers have to spend their own money to protect themselves and their customers. When grocery workers are exposed to COVID-19 multiple times and no longer have enough paid sick leave to safely quarantine, they feel forced to come to work sick to pay the bills.
“Hazard pay is not just about recognizing the health risks grocery workers face, it’s about making sure that these essential workers have the support they need to keep our grocery stores safe for customers and ensure all our families have the food we need as the pandemic continues.”
Kroger’s new Los Angeles store closures come just weeks after similar Kroger store closures in Seattle and Long Beach in retaliation against local hazard pay measures to deny essential workers this vital support as they continue to face risks of COVID infection on the frontlines of the pandemic.A Brookings Institution report highlights the growing momentum for grocery hazard pay, with more than 75 percent of Americans supporting hazard pay, and more and more cities and counties act to mandate the critical lifeline for these essential workers most at risk:
UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers and has already helped secure new hazard pay deals for over 120,000 grocery workers across the country.
COVID GROCERY INFECTIONS: UFCW recently confirmed that among the union’s frontline workers, there have been at least 139 grocery worker deaths and over 32,200 grocery workers infected or exposed nationwide. Across all the industries UFCW represents, the union has reported there have been at least nearly 400 frontline worker deaths and 79,900 frontline workers infected or exposed
UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org.