In West Virginia, frontline workers are continuing to show up for our communities every single day despite the very real dangers they still face with more than 8,900 COVID-19 cases statewide and more people getting sick every day. Grocery workers in our neighborhood supermarkets are among those most at risk, sometimes interacting with thousands of customers a day.
Without the courage of these essential workers at grocery stores who continue to put themselves in harm’s way, our families would not have the food we need during this crisis. Given the growing risks as COVID-19 cases continue to spread, it is time for the CEOs of every grocery chain in West Virginia to step up and guarantee hazard pay for all of these frontline workers.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776KS represents more than 1,500 Mountaineer workers in grocery stores and many other essential businesses across the state. The members of our union know firsthand that the danger never went away for these workers. Yet many of the CEOs of our country’s largest grocery chains ended hazard pay for these workers as if the pandemic was over and they were no longer at risk.
In reality, grocery workers continue to get sick and die from COVID-19. There have already been at least 100 grocery worker deaths and thousands of grocery workers infected or exposed to the virus. Across our whole local union, we’ve had more than 900 members infected with COVID-19 and sadly, seven have died because of this virus. Our members continue to live with the daily fear of not only becoming sick, but also putting their family in danger by bringing this deadly virus home.
It was stunning to see the CEOs of grocery chains like Kroger raking in billions in profits during the pandemic and still cutting hazard pay for these brave, frontline workers. These companies are treating these grocery workers as expendable at a time when the danger of COVID-19 is just as real as on day one of the pandemic, and we continue to count on these essential workers to be able to put food on the table for our families.
Even worse, our country’s largest grocery chains refuse the release the numbers on how many of their workers have died, become sick, or exposed during this pandemic. It is outrageous that these CEOs are keeping all of us in the dark about the dangers these workers face and the hazards that still exist in grocery stores across West Virginia. Our families deserve better.
As COVID-19 cases continue to spread across West Virginia and our state’s grocery workers continue to being essential to our communities, it is time for all of these CEOs to tell the truth about the real risks that exist in grocery stores and provide the hazard pay that these workers have earned for the danger they face every day. The only way we will get through this is together, and that starts with companies doing the right thing and putting Mountaineer workers and families first.