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Walmart among grocers ending “hero pay” for frontline workers
Though the threat of COVID-19 has not ended and grocery store workers otherwise considered essential are on the frontlines of this pandemic, several major grocery retailers—including the largest grocery chain Krogers—are ending its extra $2 per hour hazard pay for workers. Walmart and Starbucks also announced that they are following suit and ending what some call “hero pay.”
Some Krogers workers are pushing back, staging protests in front of its stores across the country.
“The coronavirus is still here, they can afford to give it to us [two dollars]. They want us to work like its normal business but it’s still not normal,” said one worker interviewed by NBC. Another worker in an NBC interview said, “We aren’t doctors or surgeons, but we are putting our lives at risk and we are putting our families at risk.”
The UFCW, the union that represents most grocery store workers in the U.S., has reported that 65 grocery workers have died from the coronavirus and nearly 10,000 have been exposed or infected.
Target Corporation was also one of the companies that had decided to end hero pay, but on Monday, the company reversed itself.
Target, through its CEO Brian Cornell, informed employees that the company would be extending a number of benefits, including its $2 temporary wage increase through July 4, and it applies to all store and distribution center hourly full-time and part-time employees.
Seventh Amazon worker dies
An Amazon worker died at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Indianapolis last week, making him the seventh Amazon warehouse worker to die after contracting COVID-19.
“We are saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Indianapolis, IN,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement. “His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues in the days ahead.”
But workers accused the company of not being open and forthright and failing to share information with workers when one of them comes down with the virus.
Interviews with workers revealed that many of the workers at the Indianapolis plant first learned of the death of their co-worker through the rumor mill. “They weren’t going to say anything if it wasn’t for people asking questions,” said one employee in an interview with the Verge.
When Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of operations, was interviewed by 60 minutes two weeks ago, he was asked what he thought was the total number of infections at the company. He responded, “I don’t have the number right on me at this moment because it’s not a particularly useful number.”
Video goes viral of Black delivery driver in Oklahoma City interrogated by White HOA president
A Facebook live video that has gone viral, shows the president of the Homeowners Association of Ashford Hills in Northeast Oklahoma City David Stewart using his car to block Black delivery driver Travis Miller to prevent him and a co-worker from driving out of the neighborhood. Steward demanded that he be told what the driver was doing.
In a scene reminiscent of the days of Jim Crow when Blacks in the U.S. were sometimes forced to have to answer to Whites about their whereabouts, Stewart and a neighbor held Miller against his will for nearly an hour.
“I want to know where you’re going?” Stewart is heard saying on the viral Facebook live. “It’s none of your business. I’m going out, that’s where I’m going,” Miller replied. After a brief standoff, a second resident appeared and he too made demands of the driver.
“Did you make a wrong turn?” asked the second resident. “All we want to know is why you’re in here and who gave you the gate code? That’s all we need to know.” But Miller stood his ground and refused to answer the White men’s questions.
The neighbors left after apparently getting word from another neighbor that the driver had indeed delivered furniture to his residence.
The driver left only after he notified police so that he would not be seen as fleeing the scene. Miller told local news stations that he went home and cried for hours after the incident.
“I felt it was race-driven to me, like the two of us were out of place, like we don’t belong there,” Miller told Oklahoma City station KFOR in an interview.
Howard Stern tees off on Trump supporters, says president hates them too
“The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most,” said shock jock Howard Stern last week of his former friend. In a move that surely ruffled the feathers of some of the fanbase that he shares with Trump, Stern pointed out that the president rarely, if ever, socializes with blue-collar, working-class folks that make up a sizable portion of his MAGA hat-wearing base.
“I don’t hate Donald,” he continued. “I hate you for voting for him, for not having intelligence. For not being able to see what’s going on with the coronavirus, for not being able to see what the Justice Department is doing. I hate you, I don’t want you here.
“Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there is any people who look like you,” said Sten. “I’m talking to you in the audience!”
5/19 Update: This story was updated to note that Target reversed its decision to end ‘hero pay’ on Monday.