Grocery stores are giving workers more pay because of the extra work and rising sales as shoppers stock up and hunker down to slow coronavirus.
Cub, Jerry’s Foods and Kowalski’s said they instituted $2 per hour raises plus double-time compensation for overtime.
“When you look at the extraordinary efforts of our teammates over the last seven days, a wage increase was the right way to reach out and say, ‘We appreciate this,’ ” Cub Chief Executive Mike Stigers said Thursday. He added, “We are keenly aware that this is a stressful time for our employees and it’s time away from personal lives and families.”
Cub, the biggest grocery chain in Minnesota, made its pay increase retroactive to last Sunday and said it will remain in effect through April 11. Cub’s starting wage for part-time help is $12 to $14 an hour.
In the past week, daily sales at Cub ranged between 20% to 100% higher compared with the same days last year. Overtime hours for employees soared, Stigers said.
Kowalski’s offered similar hourly wage increases, though it limited them to April 4 for now.
“Our employees have done an outstanding job with keeping the stores clean and sanitized for the safety of our customers and employees, as well as worked hard to replenish products,” Mike Oase, its chief operating officer, said.
At Lunds & Byerlys, full-time employees will receive an additional $500 and part-timers will get $200 on their first check in April. That includes all current workers and those temporarily away to care for themselves or family members.
“We are so incredibly proud of the extraordinary efforts of our staff in serving our customers with an amazing level of dedication and compassion,” Tres Lund, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Miner’s SuperOne Grocery, which has 31 grocery stores and 10 liquor stores in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, was among the first to announce a similar increase on Monday.
Amazon also announced similar wage increases for its employees and workers at its Whole Foods grocery chain earlier this week.
UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht, who represents workers at several local groceries, said the union asked Gov. Tim Walz to have grocery-store workers reclassified as Tier 1 “critical first responders.”
That would put the workers in the same category as hospital workers, police, emergency medical technicians and firefighters and entitle them to benefits like mandated day care from local schools.
Cub’s Stigers said he supports the idea. “They face the community head on,” he said of store employees. “They truly are front-line workers supplying very needed basic supplies to our communities.”
Stigers said no Cub employees are known to have contracted the COVID-19 virus. About 130 workers who have no day-care options are staying home to take care of their children. Cub has about 200 openings for store and pharmacy employees.
Aldi stores, which are nonunion, plan a wage announcement soon, an executive said Thursday.