Now Reading
Omicron surge: Grocery workers face a ‘unacceptable work environment’
[vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1608290870297{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][thb_postcarousel style=”style3″ navigation=”true” infinite=”” source=”size:6|post_type:post”][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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

Rachel Campos took several months off after a bout of COVID-19. In July, Rachel returned to work as a grocery cashier. She has more knowledge about how to reduce the risk of contracting it on the job and hopes to feel safer.

Campos, a colleague who had been in close contact at Ralphs, tested positive for the virus. She has also heard of other infections among staff members, which could disrupt any sense of safety or control as the Omicron coronavirus sweeps through California at a staggering pace.

It would have been different to take more measures to ensure we were OK, I thought, Campos, who is now anxious and paranoid at work 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. Despite the fact that the pandemic has increased awareness of the pressures faced by retail workers, not all customers are kind.

Kathleen Scott, who works in an Albertsons grocery shop in Los Feliz, stated that she was called a Nazi-pedophile for telling someone how to put on a mask.

Scott stated that her employer has not issued any new guidance in light of the increase in Omicron infections. She and her coworkers have been exhausted by the pandemic, she stated, adding that her temporary $5-an hour hazard pay increase mandated to her city has expired. Scott feels that they get little support from their employers. She compared it to running a marathon.

Scott stated 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’ve made it to the last mile. Then there’s another mile. At some point, you just collapse.

Albertsons did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Vanessa E. Rosales, Kroger spokeswoman, said that the company took a number precautions. These included implementing safety policies in the workplace at the start of the pandemic as well as making vaccine administration a priority. Associate who receive the required doses will be eligible for a $100 payment, she explained.

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.

Grocers are experiencing a double blow, according to Burt P. Flickinger III managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a retail consultant. They are in short supply of employees due to COVID-19 and sometimes because other retailers are tempting their workers with signing bonuses or other perks.

Flickinger stated that unionized employers, such as Kroger which owns Ralphs have higher levels of worker retention 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, just after Easter. In an e-mail, she stated that it was becoming an unsustainable work environment.

Spencer has heard that the store is sometimes short-staffed when she shops there. Spencer explained that customers sometimes wait up to 30 minutes to purchase 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 her departure. 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 underappreciated.

Wednesday morning, Campos received a notification from her supervisor that Campos’ co-worker had tested positive. Campos claimed she didn’t receive any further instructions or instructions.

Campos worked for hours feeling paranoid and wondering if she was beginning to feel sick. After suffering a headache, Campos decided she was done and quit her job. She left her shift at 5 pm instead of her scheduled 9:30 pm. Campos experienced the same headaches as her COVID diagnosis a year earlier.

She is not expected to work the next two days. She plans to have tests and monitor her symptoms.

This story first appeared in Los Angeles Times.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.