Here's How Trader Joe's Is Encouraging Employees To Get Vaccinated

On January 14, Trader Joe's, according to CBS, announced its intention to give employees two hours' worth of pay for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine received. This, if we assume the average amount a Trader Joe's employee earns is the same as given by Payscale, would equal $35.66 for each dose of the vaccination. Additionally, they will also schedule shifts around their employees' vaccinations. CBS notes that Instacart will also pay any workers who get the vaccine $25. "Our goal with the introduction of our new vaccine support stipend is to ensure that, when the time comes, Instacart shoppers don't have to choose between earning income as an essential service provider or getting vaccinated," Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Instacart, explained.

This is two months after Trader Joe's announced, as USA Today reported, that 1,250 employees, or 2.4 percent of their 53,000 strong workforce, had contracted COVID so far. Two had died. "We believe that the results in virtually all areas are below the average rates of positive cases in each community where we have stores," they said. The confidence displayed was borne out by the fact that, according to CNN, an analysis of stores in the Boston area that found the average infected rate was around 20 percent. However, this ignores how small the sample pool was, making any back-patting premature. Furthermore, the relatively rosy picture presented by corporate Trader Joe's differs from Eater's April report of workers calling for a boycott against the company that "[kept] stores open despite [a] sick crew."

Trader Joe's workers will get vaccinated earlier than some

As the matter stands, Trader Joe's workers belong to the second group of people who will receive the vaccination, along with public servants like firefighters and people over the age of 75. An earlier CBS report notes that this follows the recommendation given by the CDC, to include "workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2."

Technically, as Grocery Dive writes, companies like Trader Joe's could require their employees to get a vaccine, but have preferred the carrot to the stick. Nexstar Media Wire (via Albuquerque's KRQE) reports that other companies have not provided incentives, of neither carrot nor stick variety, for vaccination. Target, DoorDash, and Albertsons are pushing for their workers to receive early doses, but do not plan to help them when it comes to recovering from the vaccination. 

As Kim Kelly reports in The Baffler, these workers, who have been deemed essential by their employers throughout the pandemic, have started demanding that they be treated as such in attempts to form unions.  Some pay as an incentive is good, but giving them a paid day off for vaccination would be treating them as essential.