Grocers and suppliers in the Northeast continue to take steps to protect employees and serve customers during the Covid-19 crisis. Here are some of the latest developments.
BJ’s Wholesale Club increases wages, makes charitable contributions
BJ’s Wholesale Club said it increased wages and bonuses for frontline employees and created dedicated shopping hours for members age 60 and over. It also said it made contributions from the BJ’s Charitable Foundation that support local and national organizations providing essential services and support to those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Now, more than ever, we’re committed to supporting our team members and members while providing essential services to our communities during these challenging times,” said Lee Delaney, president and CEO, BJ’s Wholesale Club.
“We are grateful to be a reliable resource for our members and we couldn’t do it without the continued dedication of our team members. We’re proud of their hard work and are pleased to recognize them with increased pay and bonuses.”
As a business deemed essential, BJ’s will continue to operate under state of emergency and shelter in place orders recently issued in the U.S. Protecting employees, members and communities is top priority, the company said.
BJ’s, headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, has launched a number of programs to support employee during this time of need:
- Increased Wages:All hourly team members in the company’s clubs, distribution centers and home office will earn an additional $2 per hour for each hour worked beginning March 23, 2020 through at least April 12, 2020.
- Bonus Incentives:At the end of March, managers and key personnel in the clubs and distribution centers will receive a one-time bonus, ranging from $500 to $1,000.
- Team Member Paid Leave: BJ’s previously issued an emergency paid leave policy to support team members during this unprecedented time. The emergency paid leave policy includes:
- Waived absenteeism policy
- Pay for up to 14 days when under mandated quarantine
- Pay through a mix of accrued sick time and company paid time if a team member tests positive for coronavirus and needs to self-quarantine
- Team Member Relief: Aisle Help, the company’s employee relief fund, is available to team members facing financial hardship and most impacted by the coronavirus
- Increased Workforce:BJ’s is actively hiring for permanent and temporary positions in clubs throughout its footprint in the Eastern U.S.
- Travel and Work from Home Policy: BJ’s previously announced a ban on all team member travel unless business critical. The home office team members who are able to are working from home until further notice.
In addition to the programs for team members, BJ’s is supporting its members and communities.
- Dedicated Shopping Hours: All locations have a designated shopping hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily for its members age 60 and over.
- Member Safety:BJ’s continues to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure clubs exceed the company’s standards for general hygiene and health practices.
- Getting Members What They Need: The company is focused on getting high-demand products to its clubs as quickly as possible and offering members alternative shopping methods like Buy Online, Pick Up in-Club and Same-Day Delivery.
BJ’s Charitable Foundation also made $500,000 in donations to support local and national organizations providing essential services and support to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Local Impact:BJ’s is donating $400,000 to support local community foundations to help expand relief and assistance to those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local nonprofit recipients include the Boston Foundation, the New York Community Trust, Community Foundation of New Jersey and United Way of Miami-Dade.
- National Impact:BJ’s has a longtime partnership with Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. BJ’s has committed to donating $100,000 to support Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund and to help assist its network of member food banks to meet the increased demand for meals.
- Feeding Communities:BJ’s continues to support food banks across its footprint through its Feeding Communities program, donating food on a regular basis to support local relief efforts.
C&S Wholesale Grocers, US Foods partner during pandemic
Keene, New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S., along with US Foods Holding Corp., have partnered to combat job and food insecurities amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic’s impact on the supply chain.
“We are very excited about our partnership with US Foods, which will keep the food supply chain strong despite challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Duffy, CEO, C&S Wholesale Grocers. “We are taking the steps necessary to onboard and train members of US Foods’ workforce to ensure our warehouses are staffed and deliveries are on the road, enabling families access to food across the country.”
Foodservice distributor US Foods partners serves approximately 300,000 restaurants and foodservice operators. However, increasing restrictions imposed by the federal and state government in response to the coronavirus are reshaping American’s consumption behaviors, resulting in more grocery purchases and significantly fewer dine-out opportunities.
“We are proud to be working with C&S Wholesale Grocers as their role in our communities increases in importance,” said Pietro Satriano, chairman and CEO of US Foods. “This partnership is an excellent example of the ways in which we are leveraging our distribution capabilities in new ways to support our nation’s retailers and we value this important opportunity.”
The partnership will allow C&S Wholesale Grocers to alleviate a potential worker shortage stemming from increased food retail demands, while transferring US Foods personnel to similar job functions wherein demand is lacking in the foodservice industry.
“For more than 100 years, it has been our mission to keep communities fed. We are vigilantly monitoring this situation around the clock and are in constant communication with government authorities and industry associations to ensure that we are doing everything possible to make sure everyone has access to food,” said Duffy. “We’re thankful to have members of the US Foods team join us in keeping operations moving and store shelves stocked.”
Wakefern temporarily boosts wages, increases sick leave
Keasbey, New Jersey-headquartered Wakefern Food Corp., the retailer-owned cooperative, has launched two programs for its cooperative members’ retail store associates that provide a temporary wage premium and enhanced sick and leave benefits. The program would impact tens of thousands of employees working across ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Dearborn Market and Gourmet Garage stores during the Covid-19 public health emergency.
“Our associates have always been the heart and soul of our business and in the wake of this current crisis, we want to thank them, and their family members that support them, for the incredible commitment they are showing to our customers,” said Joe Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern Food Corp. “They work tirelessly on the frontlines to provide an essential service to our communities; we hope these steps will assist them with their immediate financial and health concerns.”
The temporary wage premium, that went into effect on Sunday, March 22, increases pay by $2 per hour. The enhanced sick leave and attendance policy will also assist associates with immediate financial and health concerns.
As a result of the increase in demand and volume across its stores, Wakefern and its members began a hiring push to fill a variety of positions across its warehouses and stores. The goal is to keep stores fully staffed and continue to provide the best possible customer service to shoppers and the communities where stores operate.
Members of the Wakefern cooperative employ nearly 80,000 people between them across eight states and represents one of the largest employers in New Jersey. The retailer-owned cooperative is made of 51 family-owned businesses, many who have been in the grocery industry for generations. Colalillo, Wakefern’s chairman and CEO, is a second-generation grocer who owns and operates five ShopRite stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“We see our customers – many of whom are also our friends, family and neighbors – turning to us for the food, supplies, and reassurance they need during this difficult time,” Colalillo said. “Our associates are providing that support as they work hard to keep all our stores shelves stocked with fresh produce, meat, seafood and fresh baked goods so people can care for their families the way they always have. We are grateful and inspired by their work during this challenging and unprecedented time.”