November 24, 2020 at 12:26 AM EST
Workers call on Walmart, Amazon and other retailers to bring back hazard pay ahead of holiday rush
By Abha Bhattarai and Christopher Ingraham
Workers at Walmart, Amazon, Kroger and other major retailers are calling on their employers to reinstate hazard pay and strengthen safety protocols ahead of the busy holiday shopping season as coronavirus infection rates skyrocket.
The United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which represents 900,000 grocery employees at chains such as Kroger, Safeway and Giant, on Monday urged retailers to do more to protect workers from the virus that has sickened more than 12.3 million Americans. Separately, workers’ rights group United for Respect called on such employers as Walmart, Amazon and Petco to pay an extra $5 an hour for the duration of the pandemic. Although many grocery and retail chains offered extra pay — typically an additional $2 an hour — early in the pandemic, most have since done away with the premium.
At least 131 grocery workers have died of covid-19, according to the workers groups, though the actual death rate is probably much higher. Retailers are not generally required to report infections or deaths to health officials, employees or customers.