Minnesota and Vermont just made official announcements that mirror what we’re all feeling: during the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store employees have become “emergency personnel.”
.@GovTimWalz has classified “food distribution workers,” which is store clerks, stockers, etc, as Tier 2 emergency works. This allows frontline workers childcare as they serve and feed Minnesotans. Thank you @GovTimWalz for supporting our industry during this challenging time!
— MN Grocers Assoc. (@MNGrocers) March 18, 2020
As Americans have rallied to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the grocery supply-chain — comprised primarily of low-wage earners — is on people’s minds in unprecedented ways.
Crazy how grocery store workers had no idea they signed up for the draft
— Blair Socci (@blairsocci) March 16, 2020
Thank you to all of the hardworking folks keeping our shelves stocked. From the farmers and manufacturers to the truckers and grocery store workers. We couldn’t make it through this without you. #InItTogether
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 19, 2020
All grocery store workers should get hazard pay. We are at the frontlines of exposure and have little to no sick time and pay after the standard 2 weeks. And we aren’t closing down or slowing down. Everyone is being overworked and doing overtime. This should be mandatory.
— reg (@love_highest) March 16, 2020
For Minnesotans and Vermonters, the “essential” designation is more than just a PR move to acknowledge those on the front lines of maintaining our food supply. By classifying grocery clerks, cleaning staff, food truck drivers, and other grocery personnel “Essential Tier 2 Workers,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has directed that these critical workers have access to free child care.
Per state directive, “Districts should make every effort to provide care for school-age children of workers in the areas below, if they are able to do so while adhering to the Minnesota Department of Health’s social distancing guidelines.” In Minnesota, districts are required to provide cost-free childcare to Tier 1 Workers, such as police, firefighters, and water-treatment workers. It is unclear right now what making “every effort” to provide care for kids of Tier 2 Workers means in a practical sense, as is whether its is possible to provide adequate childcare while simultaneously “adhering to social-distancing guidelines.”
Likewise, Vermont is planning to reimburse private childcare centers who care for its essential workers.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott said at a press conference Wednesday that his state’s child-care centers are asked to close except for children of essential personnel. Public safety commissioner Michael Schirling announced that his department had received a work order directing it to add grocery and food supply-chain workers to the growing list of “essential employees.”
Many across the United States have been calling for lawmakers to take notice of the importance of grocery workers during the coronavirus crisis.
Beginning the day w/thanks. Here’s to the mail carriers, grocery store employees, health care, public safety & transportation workers & every person who is helping us get through this pandemic. With all the bad news and hard times and work ahead I’m starting each day with that.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 19, 2020
Grocery store staff
Fast food workers
I’ve spent my life watching conservatives claim these people don’t deserve living wages. Now, they are saving us all.
— Aren R. LeBrun (@proustmalone) March 19, 2020
As our response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we expect other states to follow Minnesota and Vermont’s lead.
Hell yeah, now make it national https://t.co/XEad0wx53j
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 19, 2020
— David Beard (@dabeard) March 19, 2020
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images]