Grocery store employees in Minnesota have been deemed emergency workers and are now entitled to free childcare while the state’s schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sunday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-02, closing schools from Wednesday, March 18, through Friday, March 27. This order included a stipulation that the state is still responsible for providing childcare to children under the age of 12 whose parents are “emergency workers,” like medical staff and first responders.
Now, Walz has extended this state assistance to “food distribution workers,” deeming them “tier 2 emergency works [sic]” according to the Minnesota Grocers Association.
.@GovTimWalz has classified “food distribution workers,” which is store clerks, stockers, etc, as Tier 2 emergency works. This allows frontline workers childcare as they serve and feed Minnesotans. Thank you @GovTimWalz for supporting our industry during this challenging time!
— MN Grocers Assoc. (@MNGrocers) March 18, 2020
This state assistance comes alongside the relief many Minnesota employers are already providing for their staff. Prior to the governor’s new declaration, Target announced that “back-up [child] care will be available to all” its employees. It has also increased the availability of benefits for employees who are unable to make it to work.
Vermont has also classified grocery store employees as emergency workers. Amidst this decision, some outspoken progressive as Mother Jones Editor-In-Chief Clara Jeffery have called for this type of action on the national level.
Hell yeah, now make it national https://t.co/XEad0wx53j
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 19, 2020
Other left leaning writers like Becky Dernbach have published articles claiming that “grocery clerks are often underpaid and underappreciated,” as online cries for a $15/hour wage approach viral status on Twitter.
If your job is so “essential” that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.
— love one another (@girlziplocked) March 18, 2020
Many seem to support pushing pay even higher, advocating a $25/hour wage for grocery store clerks.
I think $25 or so. $15 was fair quite a few years ago but no longer.
— The StayHome Jacker (@kreylix) March 18, 2020
Minnesota confirmed its first case of coronavirus less than two weeks ago. Since then, that number has risen from 1 to 89 as of Thursday, reports the Pioneer Press.