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Lidl Supermarket Employees Call for Protective Measures and Hazard Pay Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 30th, 2020

CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, [email protected]212-739-7581

Lidl Supermarket Employees Call for Protective Measures and Hazard Pay Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

New York, NY – Since March 13th, 2020, New Yorkers have been called upon to practice social distancing and stay home. However, in some industries, workers must continue to show-up at work. One of those industries is the food retail industry. Recently, workers at the Lidl supermarket chain joined Long Island Jobs with Justice to call on Lidl to recognize the sacrifices that many of them are making and to call on the company to provide more protective measures and hazard pay. Today, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has sent a complaint letter, linked here, to Lidl U.S. CEO to help elevate the issues that the workers want to address. There is also a petition campaign to support the workers’ requests, which can be found here

The letter details how workers at the Lidl Supermarket chain have been obligated to work at locations where employees have tested positive for COVID-19 without receiving notice of confirmed cases. They have also been obligated to work at stations that are not properly clean, despite the fact that workers with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have worked there; and overlooked for hazard pay, which ignores these workers’ sacrifices. All of this occurs in the backdrop where multiple workers have tested positive and some workers have died as a result of COVID-19 complications. One of the workers who lost her life was Gladys Cortez, from the Islip location.

“Gladys Cortez's death is weighing heavily on the workers. They are devasted by her passing, are fearful for their safety and feel they have been neglected by Lidl and Best Market. To date, Lidl has not brought in a company to deep clean the supermarket. Workers do not know if they have COVID-19, and feel they are risking their lives every day and without the promise of Hazard Pay. Workers feel Lidl’s actions are putting workers and families along with their customers at risk,” said Diane J. Cantave, Solidarity Organizer for Long Island Jobs With Justice, who has organized with a number of the workers.

The letter calls on Lidl to take the following actions:

  • Informing workers of potential or actual COVID-19 exposure within 8 hours of a worker’s confirmed positive case;
  • Providing a detailed process as to how and how often cleaning and disinfecting will occur at a store where there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case;
  • Mandating posted cleaning schedules to notify workers when the store has been cleaned and when it is next scheduled for cleaning all working areas, including bathrooms and breakrooms;
  • Requiring store managers and appointed persons to be trained on how to address workers and store clientele who fail to practice social distancing and safe behavior in the store; 
  • Providing training regarding:
    • New York State Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19 benefits;
    • How to clean, disinfect and maintain the workplace; and
    • Managers’ obligations to enforce COVID-19 related practices and policies; and
  • Providing Hazard Pay to essential workers.

“I go to work every day and put my health on the line as well as the health of my 86-year-old mother, who I come home to. Why can't Lidl protect us at the stores better from this virus? And they should give extra pay in my check every week for being on the front lines of this crisis,” said Marian Memeszaros an employee at Best Market’s Meat Department, which is owned by Lidl.

“Essential workers like grocery employees have always played a vital role in our economy.  However, the COVID19 pandemic has exposed how little support these Essential Workers receive. It cannot be that our society relies on these workers to provide for its necessities but looks away and ignores their essential needs. These workers deserve the highest level of protection in the workplace, transparency about their working conditions, and a fair and living wage for the wonderful work they do.  By ignoring these workers’ basic needs, Lidl is also ignoring the general public’s health,” said Nathalia Alejandra Varela, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. 

About LatinoJustice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more information about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org

About Long Island Jobs with Justice

Long Island Jobs with Justice is a coalition of labor unions, community organizations, congregations and faith-based organizations, and students committed to protecting the rights of working people and supporting community struggles to build a more just society locally and globally. Long Island Jobs with Justice is committed to creating living wage jobs, supporting organizing, and demanding corporate accountability in our communities. For more information, visit https://longislandjwj.org.