Wide-spread disease and subsequent government policies in wake of COVID-19 created unimaginable hardships for millions of families in the year 2020.
Yet, during this difficult time, Americans have been able to depend on a special group of essential workers; the men and women of America’s major grocers who stock shelves, cut meat, prepare baked goods, and work the checkout lines
That particular workforce does not enjoy the luxury of being able to telecommute, yet goes to work each day to assist in providing Americans with access to food, cleaning products, and other household essentials.
For many of these workers in non-right to work states, just having the ability to maintain the employment needed to support their families is contingent upon joining and paying dues to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
While the union claims it "protects and advocates for" the interests of the hundreds of thousands of employees of the largest grocery chains in America, its behavior throughout the pandemic suggests otherwise.
Many of these frontline workers have already received, or are slated to soon receive, the coronavirus vaccine.
Grocers have invested billions of dollars in safeguards to protect both employees and customers.
But despite this, the UFCW has called for the reinstatement of "hazard pay," a bump in wages that many grocers and other retailers provided to frontline workers early in the pandemic – long before vaccines were offered, or widespread safety measures were in place.
From Southern California to Seattle, the UFCW is lobbying cities to mandate grocers pay workers more than was collectively bargained for. But the impact of these shortsighted policies runs deep.
A recent study found that extra-pay mandates of up to $5 per hour for grocery workers could raise family groceries prices by about $400 annually.
In Long Beach, the city council has adopted an ordinance requiring grocers to pay an extra $4 per hour. This has left grocers, like Kroger, with little alternative but to shutter two of its locations in the city. Now hundreds of workers are without pay.
To make matters worse, these ordinances pick winners and losers by excluding non-unionized companies such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco.
These retailers not only sell groceries but Wal-Mart is actually the largest food retailer on the planet – creating a severe competitive disadvantage for unionized grocers and their workers.
The ordinances add roughly a 30% increase in wages to an industry whose profit margins are already thin at only around 2% - expenses that don’t even take into account previously negotiated wage increases many grocery workers received during the pandemic.
As part of their campaign, the UFCW has gone so far as to applaud the extra pay introduced by Trader Joe’s, a non-union shop.
In doing so, the UFCW has conveniently overlooked that these temporary wage increases are only being offered in lieu of long-term, permanent wage increases.
Yet, the UFCW has failed to do the one thing that would have immediately put money into their member’s pockets: waive union dues.
In fact, the union has even refused to offer a temporary halt to dues collection.
And all the while union leaders rake in salaries deep into the six figures. International President Marc Perrone "earns" more than $345,000 a year, plus a lucrative benefits package – despite the average salary of their membership being about $24,380 annually.
This is on top of the millions of members hard earned monies the UFCW spends politicking across the country.
No wonder the UFCW cannot waive dues.
It is unfortunate that local officials and the UFCW continue to peddle policies that negatively impact communities, limit job opportunities, and raise costs on consumers.
Since the onset of the pandemic, grocers have hired tens of thousands of new workers, providing opportunities for many laid-off Americans, creating new tax revenue as most of the country took a net loss, and even growing the UFCW’s membership numbers for them.
Greedy union leadership and overreaching politicians should not be controlling our nation’s economic outlook in the face of what is shaping up to be a series of long-term economic obstacles.
Julio Rivera is a small business consultant, political activist, writer and Editorial Director for Reactionary Times. He has been a regular contributor to Newsmax TV and columnist for Newsmax.com since 2016. His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cybersecurity and sports, has also been published by websites including The Hill, The Washington Times, LifeZette, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Toronto Sun and PJ Media and many others. Read Julio Rivera's Reports — More Here.
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