Once considered “essential workers”, Connecticut’s grocery workers have been at work since day one of the pandemic. 

UFCW Local 371’s members working on the front lines in CT’s grocery stores have been selling food and supplies to CT’s residents since the crazy first days of the pandemic, when people searched high and low for Clorox wipes and toilet paper- when the stores were filled with throngs of mask-less shoppers and there wasn’t PPE in sight.  In the eleven months since then, these same members have reported to work every day, often faced with confronting shoppers head-on when they refused to follow safety protocol.

“In the first weeks and months of the pandemic, our members were considered heroes.  Today, February 22nd, is even the first ever ‘Supermarket Employee Appreciation Day’.  That’s why we are even more disheartened to hear of the Governor’s decision to remove our members from the list of essential workers moving to the front of the line for the vaccine.” said Local 371 President Ronald Petronella.

“I’ve been working on the frontlines serving my customers nearly every day since this started in March.  I’m proud of the work I have done to keep my community healthy and fed. I never once demanded to stay home for my own safety.  However, I have a pre-existing condition, that I was born with, and I didn’t sign up to be exposed to a deadly virus at work. I was counting on this vaccine.” said Jason Laviana, a Local 371 supermarket employee and resident of Torrington. 

“Customers have taken the six feet social distancing rules and shrunk it down to about two feet at most and those one-way signs might as well be on the ceiling because no one follows them anymore”, said Dave Scanlon, a Local 371 supermarket worker from Andover.  “My wife and I are eligible because of our age, and my daughter is a nurse so she has already been vaccinated.  This isn’t about us.  This is about the dozens of coworkers who are much younger, and are exposed every day.”

“Across the US, over 30,100 unionized grocery workers have been exposed or infected.  Hundreds of UFCW members across CT have gotten Covid, and nearly a dozen more are reported every week”, said President Petronella.  “Those exposures lead additional employees to be quarantined from work, and each case has a widespread ripple effect.  There is also no way to count the number of customers exposed by each infected member.   Getting our members who serve in these essential functions vaccinated as quickly as possible is imperative to the health of our entire state.”

UFCW President Mark Perrone Applauds Key Elements of Biden Relief Plan

“President-elect Biden’s COVID relief plan is a strong first step to taking control of the pandemic and providing Americans with the essential relief they need as this crisis continues,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone (left) said in a statement.

“With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, America’s essential workers in grocery stores and meatpacking plants are more at risk than ever before and need action to support them on the frontlines. Despite the growing hazards these essential workers face, many companies in these industries have cut hazard pay and abandoned many of the safety measures still needed to protect workers on the job,” Perrone explained. “President-elect Biden’s plan puts essential workers first by creating a national COVID-19 safety standard to protect those on the frontlines, expanding paid sick leave for all workers, calling on companies to provide retroactive and ongoing hazard pay for essential workers, and increasing funding for COVID testing, PPE and vaccine distribution.”

Happy New Year! After negotiating with UFCW leadership, Stop and Shop has agreed to pay out an additional $300 for FT and $150 for PT employees for hazard pay. While we believe you deserve more than that for the work you have done for your communities, we appreciate the company’s ongoing willingness to bargain over the issue of hazard pay. To be eligible for this hazard pay bonus, members must be on the payroll as of 12/31/20 and still active on 1/30/21. It will be paid out in early February.

https://www.facebook.com/ufcw371/photos/a.1403521276639215/2918042808520380

Local 371, together with all of our union sisters and brothers, negotiated a lump sum bonus for Stop and Shop members equal to 10% of their hourly wage for all hours worked from July 5th through August 22nd.  We are proud to announce this recognition of their hard work serving our communities and helping provide families with the food and supplies they need.