FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2021
CONTACT: Jessica Hayssen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651.261.8559
BROOKLYN CENTER, MN — Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663, the union for over 13,200 Minnesota essential workers in food, retail and healthcare sent letters to union grocery employers across Minnesota, urging them to reinstate Hazard Pay of $2 more an hour for grocery workers. The letter also requests retail grocery employers add their voice and support for additional frontline worker payouts from the $250 million Frontline Worker Pay Working Group, which was created by Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota state legislators in July as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response and assistance for essential workers from federal funds given to the state.
The letter from UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht comes at a time when mask mandates and Delta Variant cases are rising across the state.
Below is text of the letter sent to UNFI’s Cub Foods CEO Mike Stigers:
Dear Mike Stigers,
As the coronavirus Delta variant surges, I urge you to reinstate the $2 per hour hazard pay bonuses. At a time when Employers are implementing mask and other mandates for employees and encouraging personal responsibility for customers, reinstating hazard pay shows appreciation for the continuing sacrifices of grocery store workers on the frontlines of this pandemic who are putting their physical and mental health, and that of their families’, at risk to serve and feed our communities.
Over the last year and a half we have heard repeatedly from members about the stress caused by the pandemic -from the early days when there was a rush on stores and everyone pulled together to work longer and more shifts to keep product on the shelves to later when customers refused to wear masks correctly or to socially distance as recommended and then when workers quarantined without pay or had to use vacation time to receive pay. Now we are hearing about members who are testing positive with the Delta variant. Throughout it all, UFCW Local 663 members continue to make sure customers’ needs are met. and as a result sales and profits are at record highs.
Please reward the sacrifices of your employees by reinstating hazard pay and publicly voicing your support for grocery store workers to be included by the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group created by Governor Walz to receive some of the $250 million set aside from the federal American Rescue Plan. Several UFCW Local 663 members have already testified about their experiences to make sure that all frontline workers are top of mind to be included. I ask that you do the same by signing up to testify and/or submitting a letter of support.
Feel free to reach out to me to discuss in greater detail how we can work together so that grocery store workers are acknowledged for all their hard work.
Letters were sent to the following union employers: UNFI Cub Foods, Jerry’s Foods/Jerry’s Cub Foods, Lunds & Byerlys, Kowalski’s Markets, Haug’s Cub Foods, Radermacher’s Cub Foods, Quisberg’s Cub Foods in Brainerd and Baxter, Knowlan’s Festival Foods, Almsted’s Fresh Market, Jubilee Foods, King’s County Market in St. Francis and Andover, Cooper’s Foods, Seward Community Cooperative, Eastside Food Cooperative, Linden Hills Cooperative, Oxendale’s, Driskill’s, Everett’s Meats, Hirshfield’s, Super One in Baxter and Crosby, and Pequot Lakes Supervalu.
UFCW has been the leading national voice for essential workers in grocery, retail, meatpacking, and many other frontline industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. UFCW Local 663 has been tirelessly advocating for Hazard Pay throughout the pandemic. UFCW raised serious concerns about mask policy changes by national health officials and retailers across the country.
COVID NUMBERS: In the latest data compiled, UFCW confirmed that among the union’s members nationwide, there have already been at least:
- 482 frontline worker deaths and at least 96,600 frontline workers infected or exposed
- 197 grocery worker deaths and at least 43,300 grocery workers infected or exposed
- 132 meatpacking worker deaths and 22,400 meatpacking workers infected or exposed
- 67 food processing worker deaths and 13,100 food processing workers infected or exposed
UFCW Local 663 represents more than 13,200 hard-working retail, meat packing and processing, food preparation and manufacturing, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota and Iowa. We strive to improve the lives of our members and of all working families by fighting for economic, political, and social justice in our workplaces and communities. Local 663 is part of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.