Covid-19 Staff Discussions

For the most up-to-date information about the Co-op's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please see our main COVID-19 page.

UPDATED MARCH 23, 2021

After many weeks of discussion among our Management Team and Union Executive Board, we’re pleased to share that we have reached an agreement with both teams mutually agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding.

This MOU includes Management’s funding of $16,000 into our existing Compassionate PTO Pool as well as an extension of an additional 15-minute break to employees working less than 6 hours.

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams for their work these past few weeks on behalf of our broader staff.

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UPDATED FEBRUARY 19, 2021

Over the past few weeks, we have heard from community members expressing support for our employees seeking to reinstate an appreciation bonus and we wanted to take a moment to share some information about our process as well as our decision making with all of you. We recognize that there continues to be a high level of concern around Covid-19, and we want to assure you that we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our staff in every choice we make as an organization.

We’re proud of the safety measures that we have maintained over the past eleven+ months and the choices we’ve made to maintain reduced capacity (less than 20% at each store), invest in an advanced air filtration system, add staff positions to support monitoring capacity limits and increased sanitation at the store entrances, and over 30 total operational adjustments that have been made in the past year across our stores. We continue to prioritize creating a safe environment for staff and maintaining sustainable jobs in the community when many businesses have had to reduce their staff to address declining sales.

In addition to the investments we’ve made in safety and operational improvements in light of Covid-19, we’re proud of the fact that we were able to extend an appreciation bonus to our employees for a total of almost ten months (March 2020 to January 2021) representing an investment of over $690,000. This past fall, we worked with our employee Union to come to a mutual agreement to end the appreciation bonus at the end of the calendar year.  This was the result of numerous conversations that took into account the variety of safety measures implemented since March and the fact that we have continued to maintain a safe working environment for staff as the science and research around transmission and effective safety measures has become clearer.

We understand that our employee Union is advocating to reinstate a form of appreciation bonus, but we’ve shared with them that this is not a sustainable option for the Co-op at this time. We take our role as a community resource and as a cooperative seriously, and we hear the concerns of our community who want to ensure our staff and their fellow community members are being compensated fairly for the work they are doing to provide for their neighbors during this time.

We are also charged with balancing our future as a community resource, and we’re proud of the compensation and benefits package that were negotiated with our employee union in our existing contract. Ultimately, we hope you will understand that we have not made a single decision lightly in the past eleven+ months and remain grateful for the community support during this ongoing crisis.

Today, we presented our employee Union with a Memorandum of Understanding that does not include an extension of the appreciation bonus but does include an additional investment in our Compassionate PTO Pool (a PTO donation bank that exists within our contract). You can learn more about options available to staff for time off related to Covid-19 in the FAQ below.

As we continue to engage with our employee union around these discussions, we are committed to keeping our Members and the broader community updated and will share additional information on this page.

We’ve also received questions around time off available to employees and have included a few FAQs below. Please reach out with any further questions!

· Do people need to use their PTO if they are home after possibly being exposed to COVID?

No. Our employees have access to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave which provides two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeks a medical diagnosis.  More information about the FFCRA leave can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave.

Although FFCRA technically expired on 12/31/2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act allowed employers to elect to continue allowing employees to take unused FFCRA paid leave through March 31, 2021. This extension was voluntary.  We opted to continue to offer FFCRA to our employees. If an employee’s particular circumstance does not qualify for FFCRA or if their FFCRA pool is exhausted, they must use PTO for any missed time in accordance with our contract. If an employee does not have available PTO, we also have a compassionate PTO pool as an option.

· If they don’t have PTO, are they expected to take unpaid leave?

No, if an employee does not have available PTO, they can apply for Compassionate PTO as per our contract. But again, FFCRA is their first option in the case of exposure to Covid-19. From Article 27 of our contract, When employees have accrued PTO, they must use it for any absence from work. Unpaid leave, pursuant to Article 37, may only be granted after all PTO has been exhausted except that Union Leave may be unpaid if it meets the standards set forth in Article 5.1.”

· How much PTO do people get in general?

All City Market employees who work at least 20 hours/week accrue PTO from day 1.  Accrual rates increase after two years of employment, and staff have anywhere from 4 to 6.5 weeks of PTO per year, depending on their length of employment.

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UPDATED OCTOBER 27, 2020

We are pleased to share that the Union and Management teams met today, 10/27 and collectively agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding.

This MOU extends an appreciation bonus of $50 per week through January 2nd, at which time the appreciation bonus will end. It also maintains the additional 15-minute break for employees working 6 hours or more.

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts. We are committed to continuing to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit.

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UPDATED SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

During the week of September 14, the Union and Management teams met and collectively agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding which extends an appreciation bonus through October 24.

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) shall be retroactive to September 13, 2020 and shall not be terminated or extended except as mutually agreed upon by both parties.

For the pay periods of September 13 through October 24, 2020 the Appreciation Bonus is $75 per employee per pay period based on a 40-hour work week, prorated to the number of hours the employee worked. 

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts. We are committed to continuing to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit.

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UPDATED AUGUST 19, 2020

On Wednesday, August 19 the Union and Management teams met and collectively agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding which extends an appreciation bonus through September 12.

As part of this agreement, all Collective Bargaining Unit employees including those in their probationary period who are employed as of August 16, 2020 or after, shall be eligible to receive an Additional Appreciation Bonus.

Each employee will receive an appreciation bonus of $75 per pay period (weekly) based on a 40-hour work week for the pay periods of August 16 - September 12.

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts. We are committed to continuing to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit.

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UPDATED JUNE 30, 2020

On Monday, June 29 the Union and Management teams met and collectively agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding which extends an appreciation bonus through August 15.

As part of this agreement, all Collective Bargaining Unit employees who are employed as of June 14 or after, are eligible for bonus pay starting (retroactively) on June 15 and lasting through August 15, 2020.

Each employee will receive an appreciation bonus of $80 per pay period (weekly) based on a 40-hour work week for the pay periods of June 14 through June 27 and an appreciation bonus of $75 per pay period (weekly) based on a 40-hour work week for the pay periods of June 28 through August 15.

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts. We are committed to continuing to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit.

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UPDATED MAY 20, 2020

Staff Appreciation Bonus extended through June 15.

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UPDATED APRIL 28, 2020

Staff Appreciation Bonus extended through May 16. 

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UPDATED MARCH 30, 2020

To our community,

We are excited to share an update on staff compensation from today’s meeting between the Union Executive Board and Management teams. At today’s session, we reached a Memorandum of Understanding with our Union team, outlining a series of additional appreciation bonuses. We recognize the incredible effort of our staff during this challenging time and as such have worked with the Union Executive Board to formalize an agreement that provides additional compensation for staff.

As part of this agreement, all Collective Bargaining Unit employees who are employed as of March 28, 2020 or after, are eligible for bonus pay starting (retroactively) on March 15th and lasting through May 2nd of 2020. Each employee will receive an appreciation bonus of $120 per pay period (weekly) based on a 40-hour work week.

Both teams also agreed to meet and further discuss the contents of the MOU if Governor Scott’s State of Emergency declaration is extended further.

We want to thank the Union Executive Board and Management Teams and more broadly, our entire staff for their incredible efforts these past few weeks. There is no doubt that these are trying times and we’re hopeful that we can continue to work together as we navigate changes to operations and our evolving role as a community resource. We will continue to work to provide a safe and welcoming space for our staff, customers, and Members that embodies our cooperative spirit.

In Cooperation,

John Tashiro
General Manager

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MARCH 29, 2020

To our community,

We, like many of you, recognize the incredible hard work of our Co-op staff during this time. There is no doubt that this is a challenging time to come to work and be one of the few places where our community members are still able to visit. We recognize that there are many unknowns at this time and that staff and community members alike are experiencing feelings of fear and uncertainty.

As a Co-op, community is at the core of everything that we do. Over the past week, we have received a number of calls, e-mails, and social media messages from our community members expressing their disappointment that Co-op employees are not receiving “hazard pay.” We know that this outpouring of support for our employees is coming from that same sense of community that makes the Co-op, and more broadly Burlington, such a special place.  At the same time, we think it is important to ensure that our community members know that we have been in consistent communication with our staff, including members of our Union’s Executive Board to address their concerns and provide the safest possible work environment while recognizing their work and value as essential employees.

Since Governor Scott’s State of Emergency declaration, our Leadership Team has been in communication with the Executive Board of our Union team regarding a number of issues, including additional compensation for essential workers. This process of negotiation offers an opportunity for Management and Union teams to collaboratively work toward an agreement that best represents all employees and is in line with Co-op values. 

During our discussions, the Union has suggested “hazard pay” at time and one half of their regular rate of pay. We have appropriately considered this request, but we do not believe it is fiscally responsible at this time. Alternatively, the Management Team has put forth a proposed bonus structure for employees during this crisis.  Our proposal represents an effective increase of over $2 per hour for all employees as part of a weekly bonus structure.

While this is different than the proposed hazard pay that the Union team has put forth, we feel that this investment in our staff represents a more reasonable structure that both acknowledges the incredible work being done and also our desire to continue to provide sustainable jobs for the foreseeable future.

It is clear that at this moment, there are many unknowns but one thing we are committed to is to continue to provide over 300 jobs in the Burlington community with a comprehensive benefits package that is far above industry standard. As part of the overall compensation package at City Market, we offer

  • 4 weeks of Paid Time Off (PTO) to start for employees (this is in addition to leave now being mandated by the Federal government)
  • 85-90% coverage of healthcare premiums
  • An 18% storewide discount
  • And a 6% 401k match

We wanted to take a moment to outline these benefits, not to take away from the important conversation around wages during this unprecedented time, but to acknowledge the importance of paid time off and healthcare as part of this conversation as well. We’ve always invested in our employees and placed value on providing benefits for part and full time workers and we will continue to do so throughout this difficult time.

We will be meeting with the Union Executive Board tomorrow, Monday March 30th to continue this important conversation and will continue to keep our community informed as we make decisions, but we felt it was important to provide an update at this time.

Again, we value the feedback of our community and while it may be difficult to be on the receiving end of criticism, we acknowledge the importance of open dialogue as your community-owned grocery store. Through this time, as always, we will continue to strive to provide a welcoming space for our community that puts our employees’ well-being and safety first.

In cooperation,

John Tashiro
General Manager