The outbreak of COVID-19 has shaken the U.S economy and has brought almost everything to a standstill with the number of cases growing by the day. It has caused many cities to issue mandatory stay-at-home orders and close down all non-essentials businesses leaving consumers flocking to grocery stores and online retailers to stock up on as many things as they can.
Grocery stores, which have been deemed essential businesses, are struggling to keep their shelves full, with many buying in large quantities, not knowing how long these closures will last. These Memphis warehouse workers are working overtime to make sure grocers are keeping their shelves stocked.
Fifty-three-year-old Aaron Washington is among 400 warehouse workers who are working double shifts to make sure supplies are flowing from the Kroger Delta Distribution Center that covers more than 100 stores throughout the Mid-South region. For him, working “only” eight hours a day during this climate is not that bad. Since the coronavirus outbreak started, 16-hour shifts have become the new normal.
“I was able to get some rest on my off day and just go in and help out for eight hours,” Washington, a 17-year warehouse veteran told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “But other than that, the five days a week you’re scheduled to work, you’re gonna work at least 12 hours.”
In order to keep up with overwhelming demand, the center’s mandatory seven-day weeks will remain the status quo indefinitely. Kroger’s Delta division encompasses western Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, western Kentucky, and southeast Missouri.
“The schedule means that stocking up on groceries themselves just isn’t feasible,” said Washington who is painfully aware of his luck in having a steady job after witnessing a sibling in the hospitality industry be laid off due to the crisis.