Wally Waugh lives in Rosedale, Queens and works as a front-line manager at a Stop & Shop in Nassau County.
“Emotionally it’s taxing. We’ve seen people get sick. And mentally, it’s taxing because we go in each and every day knowing we may bring something home,” Waugh said.
When the coronavirus crisis erupted, Waugh stayed on the job. Stop & Shop boosted his wages, and the pay of other front-line employees, by 10 percent for working during the pandemic
“If we don’t go to work, people don’t eat or get the supplies they need, and we do it willingly because we know this pandemic is not over,” Waugh said.
The appreciation pay, as the company calls it, was supposed to end May 2, but it was extended until early this month.
Many other grocery chains across the city and country have also ended hazard pay.
While the virus threat has eased in New York, workers say they are still at risk, and should still receive the extra 10 percent.
“I couldn’t fathom how they could conceive of stopping something so crucial at this point in time when the cases continue to rise across the U.S.,” Waugh said.
Greg Finch has worked at the Stop & Shop in Long Island City, Queens for two years and has been with the company for 15 years. He’s says as the city continues to reopen, customers are becoming more lax with safety precautions.
“They still come in and pull down their mask. I’m trying to get to work and they don’t give you enough space. So yes, it’s scary,” Finch said.
Stop & Shop responded, "The purpose of this temporary extra pay was to recognize our associates for their hard work during an unprecedented surge in demand and customer traffic. As states continue to reopen, we are returning to pre-COVID levels of traffic and demand."
Local 338 of the Retail and Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents Stop and Shop employees, is fighting to get the hazard pay reinstated.
“We worked very closely with Stop & Shop. They were a great partner. And now, they quickly reverted to doing business as usual, and we are not in a business as usual state at all,” said Nikki Kateman of the Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.
The first “Appreciation Pay” extension was a mutual agreement between labor unions and Stop & Shop. The union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board to get an additional extension.