Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

People shopping in the egg and dairy case on March 13, 2020 at Whole Foods Merket in Vauxhall, New Jersey. (Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

'They Are Saving Our Lives': Demand Grows for Grocery Store Employees, Other Frontline Workers to Receive Hazard Pay Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

"Crewmembers are terrified, knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic."

Jake Johnson

Grocery stores and other U.S. businesses remaining open amid the coronavirus pandemic are facing pressure from unions and activists to provide hazard pay for employees whose jobs involve tasks that put them at direct risk of exposure to the infectious disease.

"Trader Joe's needs to provide workers hazard pay starting right now," tweeted Trader Joe's Union, an account formed by a group of workers pushing for the store's employees to unionize. "Crewmembers are terrified, knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic. It is not enough to receive [paid time off] only after being proven sick."

"We have been hearing from workers across the country interested in unionizing," the group added, "but we've also been hearing from workers who feel forced to work until they get sick, who don't have the means to find safety or security in calling out, and who are terrified at what's to come."

A video posted by chef José Andrés of supermarket employees stocking shelves in the early hours of the morning Monday sparked an outpouring of gratitude for the essential role grocery store workers are playing in providing Americans with food and other necessities during the outbreak.

Supermarket jobs are overwhelmingly low-wage and often don't come with decent benefit packages—or the luxury of working from home until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.

"They deserve hazard pay and paid sick leave," said one Twitter user. "They should also get some [paid time off] once this crisis passes."

Andrés, founder of a non-profit devoted to providing meals following natural disasters, amplified that demand:

Unions are also demanding hazard pay for public-sector workers facing possible on-the-job exposure to COVID-19, which has infected at least 3,600 people and killed 66 in the United States.

"The federal government has hundreds of thousands of workers who come in daily contact with the public—workplace inspectors, mail carriers, hospital workers, park rangers, passport processors, Social Security representatives, museum workers," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

In written testimony to Congress last Wednesday, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) demanded that government employees facing possible exposure to the novel coronavirus receive adequate protections and hazard pay.

Government Executive reported last week that three Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers in San Jose, California tested positive for COVID-19 and "a couple dozen employees deemed to have had contact with those workers are home on self-quarantine."

TSA workers are not currently eligible for hazard pay, despite their jobs requiring daily interactions with hundreds of travelers.

"We do everything we can to protect passengers, but who is protecting us?" Hydrick Thomas, president of AFGE's TSA Council, asked in a statement last Thursday.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Corporate Dems of US Senate Blamed as GOP Texas Governor Approves 'Rigged' Voting Maps

"We must protect our democracy with federal legislation immediately and defeat these cynical politicians at the ballot box."

Jessica Corbett ·

'An Act of Cowardice': 21 Israel-Based Groups Condemn Terror Label for Palestine NGOs

The organizations called the designation "a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work."

Brett Wilkins ·

The Facebook Papers Spur More Calls to 'Break Them Up!'

Other critics are demanding a "full, independent, outside investigation" of the tech titan as whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to the U.K. Parliament.

Jessica Corbett ·

'This Is an Emergency': Oxfam Says Rich Nations' $100 Billion Climate Pledge Not Good Enough

"Time is running out for rich nations to build trust and deliver on their unmet target."

Andrea Germanos ·

Progressives Vow to 'Push Very Hard' to Keep Agenda From Being Gutted Beyond Recognition

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said House Democrats "are fighting to tackle the climate crisis, expand Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing, and guarantee family leave in America."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo