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UNFI, the U.S.'s largest grocery distributor, offers starting salaries up to almost $30/hour

Grocery workers' union calls on stores to consider banning customers from coming inside
Posted at 2:38 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 10:51:07-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Driving by dozens of ‘We’re Hiring’ signs is now a normal part of our morning commutes.

"This is an issue that is across the country," said Rebecca Deschane, Vice President of Development for The New North. "Even across across the globe."

The country’s largest grocery distributor, UNFI, is desperate for workers.

“We want to make sure that everyone has the holiday foods that they love so much for the holidays coming up," said Kurt Van Camp, Human Resources Manager at UNFI Green Bay. "We need people to get those groceries to the grocery store.”

UNFI is now offering starting salaries at $18.45 an hour, and guaranteeing wage increases every six months for up to two years.

“By their second anniversary, they can already be at over $27.50, per hour," said Van Camp.

The Green Bay distribution center is looking for truck drivers and warehouse workers, who will get benefits like pensions and 401ks. They can even choose flexible schedules.

“We've just rolled out Early Acces$," said Van Camp. "Our associates can tap into their paychecks off pay-cycle time frame, up to twice a week. So we're doing more associate-centric type, to try and attract people into our organization.”

These enticing offers aren’t unique to UNFI, said Deschane. More and more employers have to find ways not only to attract employees, but retain them.

“How are they really being an employer of choice?" she said. "What are those other things that they have that they're making available to all of their employees to make sure that they understand, this is a workplace where you are valued, we want you to stay, so what can we do to keep you here?”

The New North is a regional economic development association, serving 18 counties in Northeast Wisconsin. The only way employers all over the globe can solve this problem is by proving to workers that they will be valued, said Deschane.

“There's really that recognition of, without our employees, we can't be successful," she said. "We can't survive.”