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For all the insistence that grocery workers are “heroes,” many still feel disposable

By now you’ve probably seen numerous commercials with swelling music and close-up shots of workers in masks, solemnly reminding us that we’re all in this together and referring to the heroes on the frontlines. Food service and grocery workers have fallen under that umbrella, such that grocery stores like Kroger offered employees $2/hr. extra of “hero pay” for working a high-risk job during a pandemic. However, that pay ran out on May 2, and though the pandemic is still happening, Kroger decided the heroes could go back to their previous wages.

As you might imagine, there was backlash. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International president Marc Perrone said, “These workers are out there every single day. They’re essential, but they’re not expendable. If you’re going to take risks, you should be paid for it.” He also noted grocers like Safeway and Albertsons were maintaining the $2/hr increase. A Kroger employee also wrote anonymously for Vice, saying even the extra pay didn’t stop him from feeling “disposable,” and that ultimately it wasn’t much extra money in his pocket. “I kept hearing the phrase ‘essential worker’ and thinking that was bad for us,” he wrote. “Like you put the infantry on the front line because they’re cannon fodder. They call us ‘heroes’ because they know there’s a chance we end up dead.”

In response to the backlash, Kroger announced it would be giving employees a “Thank You Pay” bonus — $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time — paid over two installments. “As the country moves toward reopening, we will continue to safeguard our associates’ health and well-being and recognize their work,” said Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. It’s worth noting that Kroger has seen a 30% increase in sales since March. “We still have a pandemic that we’re trying to deal with and these workers are dealing with,” said Perrone. “And especially in a time where bonuses for management personnel are going up and these workers are having to take less, I think it’s a problem.”

And in other news…

  • Pizza arbitrage! It turns out it is very easy to scam DoorDash out of money. [Margins]
  • People are holding secret parties and raves in restaurant basements, though as photographer Gary He points out, we can drink on the streets now so there’s sort of no point to a “speakeasy.” [AirMail]
  • World Wildlife Fund is trying to encourage indoor farming as a sustainable, resilient future for agriculture. [Fast Company]
  • Harris Teeter (owned by Kroger) is giving its employees temperature checks, but then refusing to tell employees what their temperatures are. [BuzzFeed News]
  • This Instacart worker in New York does feel like a “hero.” [NYTimes]
  • Reservation platforms like OpenTable and Resy are expanding their offerings, such as reserving delivery slots and including non-restaurant businesses. [Modern Retail]
  • A Maryland bar is trying to get people to distance by giving them giant tubes that make you feel like a human bumper car. [NYPost]
  • Michael Jordan may have gotten food poisoning or may have been poisoned or may have just been hungover in Utah, but one thing we know is he ate a whole pizza:



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