Today, UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson announced that the fight to reinstate the Pandemic Premium for Save-On-Foods workers will go to bargaining.
On May 22, Save-On-Foods suddenly announced that the Pandemic Premium would come to an end on May 30, shocking many of the workers who began receiving the Premium in March in recognition of their extra work and the added risk they were taking on as front line workers.
Following the announcement, UFCW 1518 launched a letter-writing campaign to ask Save-On-Foods President Darrell Jones to reinstate the Pandemic Premium. Nearly 6,000 people sent letters of support.
Many workers spoke out in emails to the company and to the union, sharing how important the Pandemic Premium is to them. One worker wrote “I know a few hundred dollars doesn’t seem like a lot to salary decision-makers, but to me, that few hundred dollars a month represents rent, encouragement, and hope that I can save up money for a future.”
Despite the public outcry and the Union’s efforts, Darrel Jones and Save-On-Foods have stated that they will not change their position and reinstate the Pandemic Pay.
“We are disappointed that Darrell Jones and Save-On-Foods are refusing to reinstate the Pandemic Premium. The COVID-19 crisis is ongoing, and the workers are taking on added risk and more responsibility. They deserve the Pandemic Premium for their efforts,” said Novak. “To the thousands of Save-On-Foods workers who asked for the Pandemic Premium back, we are not standing down. We are taking the $2 per hour Pandemic Premium to bargaining.”
“For us, the fight is just beginning,” added Johnson.
Save-On-Foods began offering their workers a 10% discount or 30 times the normal Save-On-More points on purchases. Then they instituted a weekly “Darrell’s Deals” program giving workers a free food item per week. Late last week, they began offering gift cards of up to $100. The union believes that these incentives, and the record-high profits that grocery stores have been earning during COVID-19, prove that Save-On-Foods can afford to keep paying the Pandemic Premium.
President Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Johnson will make reinstatement of the Pandemic Premium a key bargaining position when they reconvene the bargaining advisory committee on Wednesday. They will fight for the Premium to become permanent for Save-On-Foods workers.
You can still send a letter to Darrell Jones and Save-On-Foods to show your support.