OXNARD, Calif. -- The City of Oxnard is awarding grocery and drug retail workers with a bonus for working during the pandemic. The bonus is known as “Appreciation Pay,” and essential workers say they were not expecting it.
“I was excited over it,” said Lucy Gillbertson, who works as a deli clerk at Vons in Oxnard.
Gillbertson is still in shock that the City of Oxnard will give a one-time $1,000 payment to grocery and drug store employees who worked during the pandemic.
“To me it's showing how much they appreciate us, and also that the hard work that we put into working through the pandemic and not just going on unemployment,” said Gillbertson.
Last week the City Council approved a 2.5 million dollar grant from the American Rescue Plan making this Gratitude Program pay a reality.
“In Southern California, a lot of cities have been passing hazard pay ordinances and Oxnard was looking into doing something similar for essential workers,” said Colyn Messecar, who is a union representative for UFCW Local 770. “Oxnard had set up a plan that was going to cover just grocery workers so we had some issues with that because we thought they could expand the program to include more people so we suggested the city include grocery and drug, retail workers.”
The $1,000 will go to full and part-time essential employees who worked a minimum of three months between March 2020 and March 2021. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770 and the Central Coast Labor Council advocated for employees who put themselves and their families at risk while keeping the community fed and healthy.
“It was really hard,” said Becky Ayala, who works at Vons in Oxnard. “It was very scary thinking that we might take this virus home to our families.”
Oxnard is the first city in the nation to implement this payout.
"It might mean that they are behind in rent and this will help catch them up and they might have received debt due to childcare and this could help them pay some of that off,” said Messecar.
“I am a single mom so I plan to pay a lot of my bills and catch up on my finances,” said Gillbertson.