PCC: Protect Workers and Families, A Shorter Work Week to Save Lives

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Dear Cate Hardy and the PCC Board of Trustees,

First of all, as low-wage workers, we feel fortunate to have a job and a paycheck during the COVID19 crisis, when so many others face unemployment. We are also fortunate to be a part of a strong union, which many grocery workers and delivery service workers (such as Instacart) are not.

We are working in scary, uncertain conditions with limited staffing. With schools closed, parents are scrambling to find childcare. Some of us work long nights to go home and home school our children during the day. We are afraid to hug and show affection to the ones we care about most. 

PCC employees are proud to join fellow grocery workers, medical staff, bus drivers, garbage collectors, mail carriers, and millions of others on the front lines, providing needed assistance to the public and serving communities worldwide. But in doing so we face exposure every day that we commute to work and every hour we spend on the job. We believe a shorter work week without a pay cut is the best way to ensure this. 

Risks of contracting COVID19 increase exponentially the longer a person remains in contact with coronavirus. Each day, we spend eight-hours or more in close contact with customers and coworkers. Despite floor signs encouraging social distancing, very little of our work or proximity to each other has changed. We are glad that PCC followed other grocery employers in increasing wages by $2/hr through April 11. And while PCC has followed many King County requirements regarding social distancing and sanitation within the store, we do not feel this is enough to ensure our safety. 

So far there have been two positive COVID19 cases at two PCC locations. After the first case in Aurora, PCC closed only the deli department where the employee worked and reopened the store after just two days. On Monday, March 30, when another positive case was reported at the Bothell store, PCC closed the store for just one day. Workers at Aurora who could not work while the deli was closed were asked to “borrow” sick leave from management if they did not have enough accrued. It was only because workers contacted the union coupled with community pressure that this was corrected.

Management also promised workers at Columbia City that their hours would not be cut due to a reduction in deli business. However, on April 2, deli workers were informed their schedules would be cut to 32 hours and were told to use vacation and sick time to make up the difference. With Governor Inslee’s stay at home order in place until at least May 4, this will not be possible for many workers living paycheck to paycheck. 

We believe PCC should be leading the way in providing safety for its workers and their families. As a community market, it is our responsibility to reduce the serious risks of Covid-19 for customers and protect ourselves from further exposure to this harmful, highly contagious and potentially deadly virus.  That is why we, the undersigned, comprised of PCC workers, members, shoppers, and community supporters, call on management to instate the following: 

  1. Thirty-hours work for forty-hours pay. This measure is critical in providing safety and economic security to PCC workers.  A thirty-hour work week without a cut in pay will limit our exposure to the virus, reduce the risk of spreading it, and ensure that employees can still pay their bills. It will also allow us more time to care for family members and maintain our physical and mental well-being.
  2. Step up CDC safety requirements. PCC is following minimal requirements from the CDC but more needs to be done. We ask that PCC begin “metering” customers to keep the number of people in the store to a minimum, reduce store hours from 8am-8pm, and provide a designated employee for each shift to ensure customers are following social distancing and safety requirements.

This is a moment where PCC can demonstrate its commitment to its "triple bottom line" by providing for the economic, social, and environmental needs of its workers, members, and community. We are calling on you to put these values into action.