Ralphs cashier on supermarkets during coronavirus: Like Super Bowl on Thanksgiving

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A stuffed grocery cart at Ralphs in Culver City. March 18, 2020. Photo by Amy Ta.

Despite LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s reassurances that there’s plenty of food, if you’ve been to a grocery store lately, it might not feel that way. It’s hard to find stapes like flour and beans. 

We talk to Rachel Fournier, a cashier at Ralphs supermarket near USC. She just worked a 3:00-7:00 am shift. 

She says volume is constant: "People would ask me like, ‘Is it always like this … how has it been lately?’ And I would tell them it's as if you took [the] Super Bowl, and you decided for some reason to put it on Thanksgiving, and then you just like did it for a whole week."

She says she tries enforcing social distancing in her checkout line: "Once people get up to the line, they are more concerned with standing right next to their groceries on the belt. And so social distancing in the line is mostly like cashier by cashier. You don't want people to be getting sick in your line, so you just have to kind of enforce it yourself."

What about hazard pay? Ralphs has offered a $150 cash payment to part-time employees, and $300 for full-time. But other chains like Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons have offered a $2-per-hour wage increase.

"Everybody I work with can do the math. They're not dumb. They're cashiers. But … we can see that a $2/hour hazard pay over this whole crisis is going to amount to a lot more than a one-time $150 bonus," Fournier says.