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Senators call on grocery CEOs to extend COVID-19 hazard pay

By AUSTIN JOHNSON

The Ironton Tribune

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, joined a national press call hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union on Friday, where they discussed extending COVID-19 hazard pay for all frontline grocery workers.

UFCW announced 93 grocery workers have died and 12,405 have been infected or exposed among the union members as COVID cases spike.

The senators and UFCW demanded top companies provide hazard pay and establish mask mandates to protect all shoppers and workers.

Brown and Warren highlighted a new letter they led with support from 11 Senate Democrats calling on the top 15 major grocery store CEOs to restore pandemic pay and implement CDC recommendations for workplace safety for the duration of the pandemic.

“Grocery store workers and thousands of others are on the front lines of this pandemic,” Brown said. “UFCW members are risking their lives so that

Americans can keep food on their table. They’re keeping our society going — and their paychecks should reflect that.”

Brown said they wrote this with a clear message that “the pandemic is not over, and grocery store CEOs need to extend their pay increases and bonuses to frontline workers.

He added, “If workers deserved hazard pay in April, they certainly deserve it now.”

Warren echoed Brown’s remarks, saying “Grocery workers’ lives are at increased risk every day as they do critical work to keep America functioning — and they deserve robust hazard pay to account for that risk.”

“I’m in this fight with the UFCW and Senator Brown to demand grocery chains extend hazard pay for their essential workers,” she said.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone said America’s grocery workers “are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, bravely putting themselves in harm’s way every day as millions of Americans work from home.”

“It is outrageous that top grocery chains across the country have cut hazard pay for these essential workers, even as they rake in billions in profits and the danger of COVID-19 continues to grow,” he said. “These CEOs have a responsibility to fight this virus and provide a safe place to shop and work.”

The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.