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Union calls on Giant Food to extend workers hazard pay

A union that represents workers at Giant Food is urging the grocer to extend hazard pay and keep coronavirus safety measures in place in stores.

Giant announced plans to cancel the 10% “recognition pay” increase, in place since mid-March, on May 30. The grocer said it will offer one-time bonuses on July 1 of $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time workers.

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“At one time, we were one of the only businesses open,” said Felis Andrade, a Giant spokeswoman. “As this is changing and we anticipate our shoppers will return to their new normal, we are now transitioning to our new normal.”

Two locals of United Food & Commercial Workers want the company to extend the temporary pay increase indefinitely until the end of the pandemic. Union officials said workers should be compensated for taking extra risks during the pandemic and while no vaccine is available.

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“No matter how much we wish it were so, nothing is getting back to normal,” said Jason Chorpenning, president of UFCW Local 27, which represents Baltimore area workers, on Wednesday. “Now is not the time to loosen safety measures intended to save lives.”

Stop & Shop, a New England grocery chain owned by Giant’s parent company Ahold Delhaize, agreed to extend its 10% pay increase through July, union officials said.

The union also said it disagrees with Giant’s plans to increase the number of customers allowed in stores. It’s calling on the company to restrict traffic to no more than 10 customers per 10,000 square feet, or a maximum of 50 customers at any one time.

The union estimates that more than 65 grocery workers have died nationwide of COVID-19 and that more than 9,800 have been infected or exposed to the virus.

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