President Jim Gleb Demands Recognition for Grocery and Food Processing Workers
Throughout the summer, the Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay Working Group has met to try to allocate money to workers affected by the pandemic. UFCW 1189 members and leaders have testified repeatedly to the group, which is made up of six legislators and three appointees from the governor. The money was supposed to be allocated by September 6th, but the group cannot decide who should get bonus pay. Six group members want to extend the pay to food processing workers and retail grocery workers, among other workers who kept Minnesota running during the pandemic. However, three of the group members want to give bonuses only to healthcare workers, saying that they “took the greatest risk.”
The leadership of UFCW 1189 does not dispute that healthcare workers have taken enormous risk and worked extremely hard to care for patients during the ongoing pandemic. They certainly deserve recognition and pay. However, Minnesotans, whether healthy or sick, would have been unable to feed their families without workers in grocery stores and food processing plants. Retail workers dealt directly with every segment of the population, and close quarters in food processing and meat packing led to high infection rates even with every precaution, and anyone who stayed healthy had to work harder to make up for ill coworkers.
It is important to note that the working pay group can ask the governor for more money to be divided, and money for more workers doesn’t have to mean less money for everyone.
Please read President Jim Gleb’s open letter to the three holdouts in the Working Group, urging them to acknowledge the work our grocery and food processing members did and continue to do.