Should grocery store workers get hazard pay?

Diandra Moorhead

As COVID-19 continues to afflict the United States, lawmakers have deemed that only essential businesses be open to the public. Essential businesses include grocery stores, putting those who are employed there at risk. 

Since the start of April, several grocery stores, including Shaw’s and Stop and Shop, have implemented measures to control how many people are in their stores at once. This puts more pressure on the employees to not only work faster but also to ensure that shelves are stocked for customers who have been waiting in line outside to enter the store. 

Companies like Amazon and Walmart are both giving employees bonuses and raises while they work to fulfill the new demand they are receiving from the public. But what about grocery store workers? 

A woman who worked as a cashier at a Salem Market Basket and in security at Walmart in Lynn died this past weekend in the hospital due to COVID-19. Her death comes as grocery store workers are demanding for hazard pay and increased protection. 

“We deserve hazard pay because we are some of the most at risk,” said Jason Hadfield, a Shaw’s employee. “People need to get food, so the grocery store is unavoidable for those who may be sick and not even know.” 

Congress will soon return to Washington to decide if essential workers will receive hazard pay. One of the items expected to generate discussion is a proposal by Democrats to give frontline workers, such as doctors, nurses, truck drivers, custodians and grocery store workers an additional $25,000 in hazard pay.

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