Demands for retailers to reinstate hazard pay amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are once again picking up as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union urge company CEOs to do so. Questions, however, remain. How long should hazard pay last? Will the increased wages cause grocery prices to go up?
Harris and UFCW President Marc Perrone have jointly penned a new CNN op-ed directed at America's largest grocery chains, specifically naming Kroger, Albertsons and Amazon-owned Whole Foods. They are condemning these CEOs for cutting hazard pay, saying that "this pandemic is far from over and the health threats that grocery workers face are just as real now as they were when this crisis began."
The op-ed goes on to include the following:
"While top grocery chains rake in billions in profits during this pandemic, these front-line workers cannot choose to work from home like the corporate executives of these companies. Without these front-line workers, our families would not have the food we need to get through this public health crisis.
"Given the seriousness of this pandemic, and the essential jobs they do, the time has come to reinstate hazard pay for all of America's grocery workers. For these brave men and women who continue to be on the front lines of this crisis, our country should demand nothing less."
Washington, D.C.-based UFCW reports that as of today, among its members, there have been at least 97 grocery worker deaths nationwide, with 7,188 grocery workers infected and at least 6,122 grocery workers exposed to COVID-19.