Stop & Shop has become the latest grocery store chain to end its pay increase for hourly workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a published report. The “appreciation pay,” as the retailer referred to it, was instituted in March for employees in the company’s footprint of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and was extended in May to last through July 4.
In response to the move, Dedham, Massachusetts-based United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445 launched an online petition urging Stop & Shop to extend the extra pay. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, also weighed in, noting in a tweet: “This pandemic is far from over. It is unconscionable that Stop & Shop management would deprive workers of the hazard pay that they deserve.” Markey went on to encourage people to sign Local 1445's petition.
“Appreciation pay was created to show our thanks for the exceptionally hard work that associates put forth in extraordinary circumstances,” a Stop & Shop representative said in a statement supplied to Boston ABC-affiliate TV station WCVB. “At the time it was first offered, there was mounting public concern over the pandemic and city and state governments began to issue stay at home orders.”
The representative added: “As the states we serve reopen more fully and the supply chain strengthens, we are beginning to transition back to pre-COVID levels of customer traffic and demand. We remain committed to taking significant steps to continue to keep our associates and customers safe.”
According to the Stop & Shop representative, other recent benefit increases, among them a flexible leave policy and two additional weeks of paid sick leave, will continue to be offered to associates.
Grocers such as Kroger and Albertsons have already phased out their coronavirus pay increases, while New York has sought to make “hazard pay” mandatory for at-risk retail workers.
Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shopemploys nearly 60,000 associates and operates more than 400 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USAis No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list ofthe top food retailers in North America.