United Food and Commercial Workers, America’s largest food and retail union, on Friday urged general managers of large retail companies to use their “record profit margins” to raise wages in order to mitigate the impact of inflation on workers.
The appeal of the UFCW, which has 1.3 million members in stores, meat packing plants and food processing companies, came as the U.S. Consumer Price Index showed that the inflation hit its highest level last month since 1982.
“CEOs Must Use Record Profit Margins To Raise Workers’ Wages And Inflation Worsens [as] this new wave of Covid, ”said Marc Perrone, international president of the union. The surge in consumer spending pushed the margins of non-financial corporations to their highest levels since 1950.
Large retailers have weathered supply chain challenges and cost inflation better in the past quarter than their smaller rivals. The union petitioned 63 business executives, including executives at Walmart, Amazon, Target, Whole Foods, Best Buy and Macy’s.
Several of the companies have already raised wages and offered incentives such as signing bonuses to attract employees this holiday season.
As the Omicron variant raises concerns over a new winter wave of Covid-19 cases, the union called on companies to promote or reinstate measures such as mask wear, social distancing and vaccination programs to protect their employees.
Although the government is urging private companies to implement vaccination mandates, it has been rejected by many employers, who fear it will scare workers away in an already tight labor market. The National Retail Federation has joined calls to suspend a proposed federal vaccine mandate.
“Government mandates alone are not enough and more needs to be done to support the immunization of retail and grocery workers. On-site vaccination clinics and paid sick leave should be provided to all workers to reduce barriers, ”the union said.