United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) said Wakefern Food Corp.’s ShopRite supermarket chain has agreed on retroactive hazard pay for grocery workers efforts in late summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the agreement, nearly 50,000 ShopRite grocery employees represented by UFCW and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) will receive retroactive premium pay of $1 per hour for all hours worked from July 26 to Aug. 22, UFCW said Wednesday. The funds will be disbursed to workers in lump-sum payments.
Keasbey, N.J.-based ShopRite also agreed to meet with UFCW and RWDSU local unions to discuss additional hazard pay in the event of future COVID-19 outbreaks resulting in government-ordered shutdowns of businesses, excluding essential businesses such as grocery stores.
“Grocery workers have been on the front lines since this pandemic began and continue to put themselves in harm’s way to help families put food on this Thanksgiving. This new UFCW agreement is a powerful victory for ShopRite grocery workers across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “UFCW local unions worked with ShopRite to provide temporary hazard pay at the start of the pandemic and, when that pay raise expired, these courageous grocery workers came together again to reach a new agreement with ShopRite on hazard pay as this crisis continues.”
In the tristate region, UFCW represents more than 52,000 New Jersey workers, over 74,000 New York workers and nearly 13,000 Connecticut workers. UFCW said the deal was reached with ShopRite workers across the Northeast who are members of UFCW Locals 1, 152, 342, 360, 371, 464A, 1262 and 1500 and RWDSU Local 338.
Also under the pact announced Wednesday, ShopRite has agreed to annually observe a moment of silence on Workers Memorial Day and Labor Day to recognize frontline workers lost to COVID-19 and “the collective strength union membership,” UFCW said. The practice will start in 2021.
Earlier this week, UFCW reported that at least 109 grocery workers have died from coronavirus and more than 48,000 have been infected or exposed to the virus since the pandemic began in March.
The union noted that the deal with ShopRite recognizes the ongoing hazard that grocery chain’s face from COVID-19. Through Wednesday afternoon, the United States had more than 12.6 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 261,000 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
“Today, UFCW grocery workers are sending a clear message to supermarket chains across the country that this pandemic is far from over,” Perrone added, “and every CEO must do the right thing by providing the hazard pay that these brave essential workers have earned and deserve as the threat from COVID-19 continues.”