The pay bumps, designed to retain and reward workers during the pandemic, are temporary. But industry critics hope they serve as a path forward toward improved pay for some of America’s low-wage workers.
Now, grocers and retailers staying open through the crisis are trying to offer their vulnerable employees additional inducements to come into work and keep operations running smoothly. These companies are also hiring additional workers to keep up with demand and to give their regular employees a breather.
“These retail companies are trying to incentivize workers to come to work,” said Patricia Campos-Medina, co-director of the New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University’s ILR School and a former SEIU official.
Campos-Medina predicts that pressure will rise on companies to make temporary wage hikes permanent.
“The expectations have been set that these companies can pay a higher wage if they are forced to,” she said. “American workers will demand more from employers.”
Despite the pay raises, some critics say Walmart, Amazon and other companies are not doing enough for their employees during the crisis. Walmart and Amazon have instituted emergency leave policies related to coronavirus.
“I am encouraged that you have recognized the importance of paid sick leave during the current crisis by introducing emergency sick leave policies,” Warren said. “However, I am concerned that gaps in these policies will leave many workers without the option to follow best medical advice when they are sick, putting themselves, their colleagues, and their communities at greater risk.”