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Stop & Shop ends COVID-19 pay boost for workers

Stop & Shop said it extended the pay

Stop & Shop said it extended the pay boost longer than most other grocery retailers. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Stop & Shop has halted extra payments to its employees exposed to the coronavirus, drawing angry criticism from the union representing 70,000 supermarket workers, including more than 8,000 on Long Island.

The supermarket chain, which increased pay 10% in March as the coronavirus began its sweep across the United States, said supermarkets are now returning to pre-COVID levels of customer traffic and consumer demand.

Stop & Shop, with 51 stores on Long Island, has the largest supermarket share on the Island — 34.2%, according to a June report from Food Trade News, a Columbia, Maryland-based publication.

“We deeply appreciate the extraordinary efforts of our associates and have been pleased to offer and extend our appreciation pay program for longer than nearly every other food retailer,” said Stop & Shop, a Quincy, Massachusetts-based retailer with more than 400 stores in five states.

It said it will continue to offer workers a flexible leave policy and additional paid sick leave.

The leaders of 14 locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union said supermarket employees “didn’t sign up to be front line heroes in a health crisis” and that little has changed since March 20 when Stop & Shop raised workers’ pay.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues and our members also continue to practice regimented disinfection protocols just to go to work every day and ensure their families are safe when they return,” they said said in a statement.

“The emotional and mental labor expended by our members hasn’t lifted and their essential pay shouldn’t either,” said the heads of union locals in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Citing Stop & Shop’s profitability, union leaders said ending the additional pay was “inexcusable.”

The grocer's Dutch parent company, Ahold Delhaize, on May 7 posted first-quarter profit of the equivalent of $1.1 billion, up 40% from the same period last year. The company, which trades in euros, said it generated the equivalent of $20.7 billion in sales in the three-month period, an increase of 12.7%.

Sales at U.S. stores, excluding gasoline, jumped 13.8%, with all brands generating double-digit growth due largely to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ahold Delhaize said. 

Governments established supermarkets as essential during the pandemic as shoppers crowded stores for food and groceries. Supermarkets also picked up sales that would otherwise have gone to restaurants that were shut on state government orders. — With Tory N. Parrish

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