Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led the Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-MA-01), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA-08), William Keating (D-MA-09), Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), Katherine Clark (D-MA-05), Seth Moulton (D-MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03), in a letter urging Stop & Shop to reinstate hazard pay for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus spread throughout the country earlier this year, Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, MA, announced that the grocery store chain would provide a 10% pay increase for their hourly, frontline workers. The hazard pay was instituted to recognize and compensate workers for the additional risks they take on in their jobs during this public health crisis. The company discontinued the hazard pay as of July 4. Despite the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts steadily decreasing over the past several weeks, COVID-19 rates continue to spike across the United States, and frontline workers are no less at risk from the highly contagious virus.
"While we appreciate that you began providing a 10% pay increase to Stop & Shop employees across New England in March to compensate them for the additional risk they take on as essential workers during this public health crisis, we are concerned that your decision to terminate this hazard pay while the threat of coronavirus continues strips your workers of compensation and recognition of the extra risk they currently encounter in their jobs," the lawmakers wrote.
"Your workers are no less deserving of essential protections and hazard pay now than they were at the beginning of this pandemic," the lawmakers wrote. "We ask that you consider the UFCW request for an extension of hazard pay for Stop & Shop employees."
In April, Senator Warren and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) proposed an Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which includes robust premium pay for essential workers to recognize the risks they face at work while they assist families and communities in staying fed, staying safe, continuing critical services for the lowest-wage workers, and not count towards workers' eligibility for any means-tested programs.