‘We’re people first’: Boston grocery store workers hold protest in response to coronavirus exposure, lack of protection

BOSTON (WHDH) - Grocery store workers in Boston held a protest on Tuesday morning to demand more protection from their employers as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths-linked to the highly contagious disease continues to climb on a daily basis.

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“Hey, hey! We need hazard pay! Ho, ho!” a frightened and frustrated grocery worker could be heard yelling into a megaphone.

Dozens of workers from Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s lined the sidewalk outside of the Whole Foods in the city’s South End.

“We are demanding adequate personal protective equipment and time-and-half hazard pay for the duration of the crisis,” protestor Elan Axelbank said.

Many workers could be seen holding a bright sign with bold messages demanding action.

“Protect the front line, not the bottom line,” one worker’s sign said.

Other workers told 7NEWS that they are worried sick and fearful that they will catch the virus and never recover.

“We’re essential employees but we’re people first,” Lisa Wilson said. “I feel like they forgot that a long time ago. Now is definitely time to remember that.”

In a statement obtained by 7NEWS, Whole Foods said they will be providing their employees with gloves and masks, in addition to paying them an extra $2 per hour.

On Sunday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh recommended a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, in addition to urging Bostonians to wear face coverings whenever they go outside.

As of Monday afternoon, the virus had infected nearly 14,000 Bay State residents, while leaving 260 people dead.

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