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MnRA asks Frontline Worker Pay Working Group to include frontline retailers for State bonus payments

Below is the full text of the letter to the Frontline Workers Pay Working Group:

August 30, 2021

Frontline Worker Pay Working Group Members:

We have been watching the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group with deep interest, and we appreciate the discovery and thoughtfulness that has been evident during your meetings and testimony.

As consumers each of you have seen first-hand how retailers have stepped up early and throughout the pandemic, working hard on extra cleaning and new ways of retailing to provide a safe shopping experience and work environment. We are proud of how the industry answered the State’s call to donate masks and other PPE when such supplies were desperately needed. In addition, you saw retailers quickly shift operations to offer or enhance curbside pickup, home delivery, online options, and safe in-store shopping based on state, federal and local public health guidance.

From the front of the store serving customers directly, to the vital work in distribution and shipping centers, retail workers have answered the call each day to ensure the needs of families, communities, and all Minnesotans have been met. We truly have seen the customer-serving spirit and work ethic of Minnesota’s retail workers shine!

As you get closer to consensus on program qualifications, we offer these perspectives based on what we have heard from retailers and their workers across the state.

  • Please consider Minnesota’s retail pharmacy workers as healthcare workers. Workers in retail pharmacies have reported for work each day of the pandemic to ensure Minnesotans have access to over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, personal hygiene supplies, and accessible COVID vaccines and testing. Retail pharmacies and their workers have played a recognizable role in the health of all Minnesotans and have proved to be a vital part of the health response to the pandemic, including being frontline partners with the State on vaccination. We ask that you not exclude these workers from your healthcare qualifications.

  • Please consider Minnesota’s convenience store workers as grocery workers. Thousands of convenience store workers clock in every day to ensure there is access to essential products such as gasoline and electric charging as well as grocery items. In some communities and for some Minnesotans convenience stores serve as the most accessible store for fresh, packaged and prepared foods. We ask that you not forget these convenience store workers as you consider grocery worker qualifications.

  • As you continue to discuss program funding, including the potential to leverage other available funding beyond the $250 million, please consider the work of Minnesota’s frontline retail workers who show up every day to meet the needs of our citizens. One estimate brought before the workgroup suggested there are approximately 153,000 workers who make sure we have access to household and personal essentials, clothing and shoes, home office and education technology, home maintenance goods, as well as other physical and mental health/safety items needed across the state. As you continue to learn more about workers who have important roles throughout the pandemic, please consider frontline retail workers who have been serving Minnesotans via in-person shopping, curbside delivery, online servicing, and back-end processing and logistics.

We commend the workgroup for its process and willingness to dig deep and understand Minnesotans and how they were and are impacted by the pandemic. We know the decisions ahead of you are difficult but are also confident your spirit of cooperation will result in a meaningful program for frontline workers.

Thank you for your consideration of retail pharmacy, convenience, and frontline retail workers as you make your decisions.

Bruce Nustad, president
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About the Author

Bruce Nustad

Bruce Nustad is president of the Minnesota Retailers Association.

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