Thousands of grocery workers at Safeway supermarkets across the nation will receive an extra $2 an hour in pay in appreciation for continuing to serve customers during a time when Californian and other Americans are sheltering at home to avoid becoming infected with the new coronavirus.
Safeway also will be installing plexiglass barriers at check stands and making other adjustments to lower the risk of infection for workers, said Jacques Loveall, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8-Golden State, the union representing the workers.
All Safeway workers — employed at nearly 900 stores in 18 states, as well as those working in distribution centers, supply plants and others parts of the business — will receive the wage increase, the company and union said.
“Discussions are ongoing with union employers regarding other safety measures to protect workers who interact with the public at great personal sacrifice,” Loveall stated in a news release. “Joint labor-management committees are also in place with the Save Mart and Raley’s supermarket chains to addresses the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
COVID-19, which is caused by the new coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that causes coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Infectious disease experts have said that 80 percent of the people who get the illness will experience no symptoms or mild symptoms.
However, experts have said, 20 percent of those who get it are expected to get serious or acute cases of lower respiratory disease that could require hospitalization. Because the number of hospital beds are limited, California’s public health leaders have ordered measures such as sheltering at home and social distancing to slow the spread of the disease to ensure the highest level of care for all who need it.
Loveall described grocery workers as “heroes serving on the front lines doing all they can to ensure we have access to the food, medicine and essential goods we need.”
UFCW 8-Golden State represents approximately 35,000 people employed by supermarkets, drug stores and other workplaces from the Oregon border in the north to Kern County in the south.