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Omicron surge: Grocery workers face a ‘disasterous work environment’

Omicron surge: Grocery workers face a ‘disasterous work environment’

Rachel Campos, who had taken several months off due to COVID-19, returned to work in July as a grocery store cashier. She now has more information about how to prevent the disease from happening on the job.

Campos, a former co-worker at Ralphs, was tested positive for the virus. Campos has heard of other infections among her staff, upsetting any sense of safety and control as the Omicron strain of the coronavirus sweeps across California at an alarming pace.

It seemed like there would be more measures to make sure that we were OK. Campos said she feels anxious and paranoid at her job once again.

With a COVID-19 spike, workers are having to struggle through yet another winter holiday season. This one has a variant that is spreading faster than ever before. Groceries are usually busy in the week leading up Christmas, and this year they expect record-breaking sales.

Workers don’t get better or more protections at their workplace, according to several employees interviewed. The pandemic has made people more aware of the pressures that retail workers face, but not all customers will be kind.

Kathleen Scott, who works at the Albertsons grocery store in Los Feliz, said that she was just called a Nazi pedophile after telling someone to put on masks.

Scott stated that her employer has not issued any new guidance in light of the increase in Omicron infections. She said that the pandemic has made it difficult for her and her coworkers to work through, and the $5-an-hour hazard-pay boost workers were required to receive by the city has expired. Scott feels that they get little support from their employers. She compared the experience to running marathons.

Scott said that you push yourself harder when you get to the last three mile mark because you believe it will end soon. We feel like we have reached the last mile, but then there’s another mile and you just collapse.

Albertsons did no immediate respond to a request to comment.

Vanessa E. Rosales, Kroger spokesperson, stated that the company had taken several precautions. She said that they have implemented many workplace safety policies since the outbreak of the pandemic. They also made the administration of vaccines a primary focus. She said that associates who receive the required number of vaccine doses are eligible for a $100 one-time payment.

Rosales stated in an email statement that we have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic since almost two years. In keeping with our values, safety of our customers and associates has remained our top priority. We comply with all regulations and continue to review them. We are also learning from experts and agencies to help us determine our approach.

According to Burt P. Flickinger III (managing director of the retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group), Grocers are taking a double blow. They are experiencing a shortage of staff due to COVID-19-enabled employees, and in some cases, because other retailers are luring their workers with signing bonuses.

Flickinger stated that unionized employers like Krogers, which also owns Ralphs have higher worker retention rates due to their better benefits. Flickinger stated that workers at unionized grocers are more productive and loyal than those working in restaurants, especially fast food.

Dana Spencer quit her job at Whole Foods Laguna Nigel, where, she had worked for seven years, shortly after Easter. She stated in an email that it was becoming a difficult work environment.

Spencer has noticed that the staff is sometimes short-staffed when she shops there. Spencer explained that sometimes customers have to wait for up to 30 mins to buy a few items.

Spencer wasn’t the only one to decide to leave the store. Nearly all of the people she worked in at Whole Foods have left since she left. She said that a few people went on to work for Trader Joes.

Spencer said that no one I worked with was happy and that everyone he spoke to is seeking other employment. This is hard work, underpaid and undervalued work.

On Wednesday morning, Campos received a notification from her supervisor that Campos’ co-worker had tested positive. Campos stated that she did not receive any instructions or guidance regarding quarantine.

Campos felt paranoid and worried that she was getting sick, and worked for hours. She decided to quit her job when she started having headaches and she left her shift at 5 p.m. instead her scheduled 9:30 p.m. finish time. Campos experienced the same headaches as her first COVID diagnosis a year earlier.

She will not be working for the next two-days. She will be taking tests and monitoring her symptoms.

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