Vermont senators say Walmart ‘cruel’ not seeking hazard pay

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File photo(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 4:08 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Five Vermont state senators say Walmart is “cruel” to not seek essential worker hazard pay grants for its Vermont employees who worked during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Thursday press release, the senators, led by outgoing Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, called the decision “unthinkable.” The grants are to thank workers who stayed on the job when much of the country was shut down. To receive the grants of $1,200 or $2,000 employers must apply on behalf of their workers. There are six Walmart stores in Vermont.

Walmart issued a statement late Thursday:

“We are proud of the important role Walmart associates continue to play to ensure our communities have access to necessities like food, medicine and cleaning supplies. Recognizing the critical service provided by retail workers during this current historic health crisis, we’ve invested more than $1 billion in our associates nationwide, with three special cash bonuses, in addition to our quarterly incentive bonus program. We believe the intent of the taxpayer-funded Vermont Frontline Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program is to assist small and medium employers in the state who might be unable to pay a similar bonus, and we hope those funds can be more appropriately used by those employers.”

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