As we enter the second month of pandemic living, we are beginning to recognize a new kind of hero. Whoever thought that working in the service industry could be so stressful, so dangerous, and yet so absolutely crucial? While brave medical professionals are struggling to save lives, equally brave, yet far more poorly-paid, fast food employees and grocery store workers are struggling to keep us all fed.
Even some corporations are stepping up to do the right thing, recognizing that the smallest cogs in their wheels are actually some of the most vital ones. It’s not the corporate head honchos, after all, who are out there on the front lines exposing themselves to who knows what germs without even any hand sanitizer left to protect them — no, the ones taking all the risks are the workers making barely above minimum wage.
Budget-minded grocer Aldi, known for cost-cutting measures like requiring shoppers to being their own bags, is putting people above profits during the current crisis. Fox13 shared Aldi’s unprecedented announcement that it will not only be giving its employees a 10 percent pay raise, but that this raise will be backdated to cover all hours worked since March 9.
The true significance of Aldi's action
Aldi, a chain based in Europe, is acting not just locally but globally, with the pay raise intended for employees at all their worldwide locations affected by coronavirus — which is to say, anywhere on the planet. (Ok, Tajikistan, North Korea, and the Solomon Islands have no confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to The Diplomat, but then, they’re also lacking in Aldis.)
In the U.S., Aldi’s response to the coronavirus crisis has been echoed by retailers who are also pledging to do right financially by their employees as well as taking steps to ensure their safety. Business Insider reports that Albertson’s, BJ’s, Costco, Walmart, Target, and Amazon will be boosting worker pay $2 per hour, while convenience chain Sheetz is upping pay $3. Starbucks is also offering $3 per hour for employees still on the job and even paying workers unable to work their shifts at this time. Trader Joe’s, aka Aldi’s brother by another mother, isn’t being quite as transparent with its generosity, but the chain has established a “special bonus pool” of money to be divided up amongst employees based upon the amount of hours worked.
While some corporations are still acting like greedy jerks (Burger King, yes, we are judging you even if the decision to slash pay rates was eventually reversed), it is to be hoped that more businesses both small and large will go the Aldi route. The best PR, after all, comes from just doing the right thing, and it’s a win for employers and employees both.
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