- Matthew Thorsen/File ©️ Seven Days
- City Market/Onion River Co-op in downtown Burlington
City Market, Onion River Co-op closed its downtown store on Saturday and Sunday due to staffing issues stemming from an employee's positive COVID-19 test. Its South End store remained open, and the downtown store reopened Monday morning.
The market first announced the closure Saturday morning on social media, referencing "unforeseen circumstances associated with a positive case amongst our staff.”
In an email to staff that was sent at 12:24 a.m. Saturday, general manager John Tashiro explained that management had been informed of the positive case late Friday afternoon.
“After reviewing footage and identifying close contacts it became clear that operating our Downtown Store on Saturday, 2/13 would not be possible due to gaps in staffing in key customer-facing positions,” Tashiro wrote.
Staff scheduled to work Saturday were told to “report as usual,” however.
Tashiro also informed employees that contact tracing connected to the positive test case had had been done and that close contacts were expected to be notified by Saturday morning.
The email continued: "Please note, this store closure was the result of a particular staffing challenge and is not part of our typical protocol."
In the past two weeks, City Market has reported a case of COVID-19 at both of its stores. The new case comes as the union that represents about 265 employees is negotiating for a new round of hazard pay, which the member-owned store calls an “appreciation bonus."
In the early months of the pandemic, employees received an additional $120 per week, according to union president John Donoghue. That amount has decreased incrementally; hazard pay was $50 per week from October through January 2, according to Donoghue. Employees currently receive no hazard pay.
Donoghue told Seven Days on Saturday that the union will revise its proposal this weekend and present a new one to management on Monday.
“It seems to me that this is a clear indicator of the escalation of the dangers of COVID in our community,” Donoghue said. “And that to us is a shot in the arm of our need for hazard pay.”