UFCW Calls on Retail and Grocery CEOs to Protect Essential Workers and Customers

On Dec. 10, the UFCW sent a letter to CEOs of top U.S. retail and grocery companies, calling for immediate action to protect workers and customers amid the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The letter was sent directly to 63 retail and grocery CEOs, including Andy Jassy (Amazon), Doug McMillon (Walmart), Rodney McMullen (Kroger), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Karen Lynch (CVS), Brian Cornell (Target), Corie Barry (Best Buy), Jeffrey Gennette (Macy’s), and many others.  In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged CEOs to address the growing challenges essential workers face by implementing five key measures as follows:

•           Promote Mask Wearing: To reduce transmissibility, promote mask wearing for all customers at all locations.

•           Provide Free Personal Protective Equipment to All Retail Workers: To help protect workers, free access to personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer must be provided while on the job.

•           Re-establish Social Distancing: Social distancing rules have been relaxed despite ongoing COVID risks. To protect workers, social distancing must be encouraged in all stores.

•           Support Vaccination/Boosters for Workers: Government mandates alone are not enough and more must be done to support vaccination of retail and grocery workers. Onsite vaccine clinics and paid sick leave should be provided to all workers to reduce barriers.

•           Implement Inflation Wage Protection: Exploding spikes in food prices is an added burden to many essential workers – especially those with families. CEOs must use record profit margins to increase worker pay as inflation worsens amid this new COVID surge.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone’s letter to CEOs is excerpted below:

“America’s essential workers have had to contend with an ongoing deadly pandemic that has upended their daily lives as they have put their health and safety at risk every single day. For nearly two years, the threat of COVID-19 has persisted and evolved, even as many of America’ largest food and retail companies have relaxed their safety measures. With the new COVID-19 winter surge and emergence of the Omicron variant, it is critical for our nation’s largest retail and food employers – including Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Whole Foods – to take immediate steps to protect essential workers and members of the public during this holiday season.”

“We are urging each of your respective companies to implement stronger in-store measures immediately and maintain these protections throughout the holidays and winter. These measures must include promoting mask wearing, free PPE access for workers, reinstating social distancing, support for worker vaccination and booster shots, and inflation wage protection. Waiting for this pandemic to once more spiral out of control is not an option. These actions must be taken now to help reduce the risk of more essential worker infections and deaths.”

“Given the enormous risk of COVID-19 that essential workers still face, we implore each of you and your respective companies to do what is right and responsible and take immediate action to protect and support essential workers. Working together, we can save lives and ensure that this holiday season is one that is not just prosperous for your companies, but is safe for essential workers, the customers they serve, and all Americans.”