As COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue across the U.S., frontline food industry workers in Texas industry are pushing to receive some priority for receiving the vaccine.
According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, all or parts of 13 states say that grocery workers can be vaccinated now, but Texas is not one of those states.
According to the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union which represents 1.3 million grocery, meatpacking and food processing workers, grocery workers can be vaccinated in Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Virginia and Wyoming.
Members of the UFCW said that frontline food industry workers should continue to receive hazard pay as COVID-19 infections and deaths in the U.S. remain at peak levels, but many employers aren't reflecting that reality in the workplace.
According to Marc Perrone, president of the UFCW, the threats to essential workers are worse than in the early days of the pandemic.
The union estimates that 400 frontline workers in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 and 77,600 workers have been infected or exposed to the virus, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Dawn Hand, a Kroger store employee from Houston, told the Dallas Morning News that since Christmas, 500 Kroger employees have been infected in the Houston area, and that her store is in "worse shape" now than it had been in the earlier days of the pandemic.
News from around the state of Texas.
Hand said Kroger is "acting like the pandemic is over," adding that her store lacks cleaning supplies and needs more staff to maintain the store.
On Tuesday, Kroger offered to pay $100 to employees who get vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Walmart said it is "strongly encouraging all associates to get vaccinated, once eligible, but are not requiring anyone to receive the vaccine."
Walmart said it has no plans to offer incentives for receiving the vaccine, but the store is offering three days of paid sick leave to those experiencing side effects from the vaccine, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Last week, supermarket workers in Long Beach, CA, protested in front of a Food 4 Less supermarket after the store's parent company, Kroger, chose to close two supermarkets rather than pay workers an additional $4 an hour in "hazard pay" for their work during the pandemic.
Kroger said Tuesday that it is thanking each hourly frontline employee with a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Perrone told The Dallas Morning News that much of what the grocery stores are doing amounts to "good PR," adding that workers have higher expenses outside of buying groceries.
The UFCW said that last week, local unions helped secure new grocery hazard pay in Seattle, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Oakland.
In response, Trader Joe's expanded hazard pay to all of its grocery workers, including in Texas, The Dallas Morning News reported.