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Grocery workers suffer the mental health effects of customer hostility and lack of safety in their workplace

Supermarket employees, still laboring in crisis mode, continue to report significant rises in physical and mental health problems.

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Many grocery store workers have experienced high rates of anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

With the holiday season here, consumers are understandably desperate for a “normal” holiday season. For many, that includes big family dinners and Black Friday shopping sprees.

Retail and service sector workers have been laboring to keep shelves stocked and customers happy from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life on the front lines has been exceptionally stressful for these employees. Suddenly, they found themselves identified as “essential workers,” providing critical services while working in close contact with customers and coworkers. But unlike health care workers, grocery store employees had no prior experience or training in combating infectious diseases.

Early in the pandemic, the public celebrated grocery workers. They were hailed as “heroes” who were risking their lives for the benefit of their local communities. Billboards and the nightly news reminded the public to show kindness and compassion to store workers.

Major grocery chains initially offered their employees a “"hero bonus,” but that quickly went away. Many grocery workers soon felt forgotten as businesses and customers adjusted to the new normal.

We are a team of researchers from the University of Arizona with expertise in worker health, retail marketing, human development and public health. We have been following the impacts of the pandemic on grocery workers across the state of Arizona.

Our research and that of others show that rates of mental health distress among grocery workers are very high. In a newly published study, we reported that 20% of employees working in Arizona grocery stores in the summer of 2020 exhibited signs of severe anxiety and depression. And the mental health struggles of these workers do not show much improvement since we began our research in summer 2020.

A cashier serving a customer in a supermarket checkout lane.
One study of grocery store employees suggests most haven’t had any significant training related to pandemic safety protocols. Bill Oxford/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Anxiety, depression and stress

By the summer of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 14% increase in symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorders among the national adult U.S. population, compared with pre-pandemic levels. But for grocery workers, we found that the levels of anxiety and depression are more than twice the national average.

In July 2020, as the pandemic first peaked in Arizona, 22% of grocery workers reported symptoms of severe anxiety, while 16% reported symptoms of severe depression. Although those levels dropped slightly near the start of 2021, the effects of continually working in crisis mode can lead to significant persistent mental, physical and behavioral health problems.

Our online Arizona Frontline Worker Survey was developed in partnership with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99. They represent some 24,000 workers in the retail, meatpacking, hospitality and administrative sectors throughout Arizona. This survey tracks the experiences of these essential workers as they navigate the complexities of protecting their own health amid frequently hostile customer interactions and poorly defined safety measures.

We asked grocery workers to rate their sense of safety in the workplace, both in terms of their ability to protect themselves and the degree to which management prioritized their personal safety. Overall, about 60% of the 3,000 workers we heard from did feel generally safe in their workplaces.

The two most important factors that explained grocery workers’ high rates of mental health distress were the perceived absence of effective workplace protections and lack of enforcement of store policies like mask-wearing and social distancing.

For example, only 18% of grocery workers reported that they had received any meaningful training on pandemic-related safety protocols from their employer, despite existing guidelines and recommendations. Importantly, federal guidelines require all employers to provide basic training on COVID-19 mitigation measures, along with meaningful ways for workers to report their concerns to management without fear of retaliation.

Grocery workers who believed that their workplaces were safe placed a high premium on the enforcement of safety protocols specifically targeting customer behaviors. For example, our research found that grocery workers’ sense of safety increased three-fold when they also believed that store managers maintained clear policies requiring customers to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Those workers who felt safe at work had significantly fewer symptoms of mental health distress than those who felt unsafe.

Confrontations with customers

It comes as no surprise that customer hostility plays a significant role in the mental health of grocery workers. Over time, shoppers have become increasingly rude, to the point that interactions with customers are now often contentious and occasionally violent.

More than half of the grocery workers we heard from believe that they will be verbally threatened by an angry customer at some point during the pandemic. Employees are often on their own when it comes to getting customers to observe basic public health measures and be civil. Many lack support from management in enforcing the public health guidelines that serve to keep them, their families, coworkers and customers safe.

Leanne – a pseudonym – a young employee who has worked at a major grocery chain for three years, told us about her struggles with abusive behaviors on the job, in particular with respect to mask-wearing.

“Customers have come right into my personal space and leaned in to tell me why they’re not going to wear one – politics, uncomfortable, too hot, can’t breathe, their medical condition, etc. But I wear mine correctly for eight hours every day… to protect THEM.”

Most grocery workers earn low wages. Only half of all retail workers are eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance or paid sick leave. Our research suggests that this economically vulnerable workforce is taking on additional health risks during the pandemic while fearing that customers may verbally or physically assault them.

With all these risks and stressors, it is not surprising that rates of mental health distress among grocery workers are high. Job burnout is a real possibility, likely contributing to the national worker shortage.

Add holiday stress, and there’s more in store

The stressful situation for grocery workers may be amplified in the coming months. The National Retail Federation forecasts a busy holiday shopping season. It may even eclipse last year’s records despite increasing inflation rates and supply shortages. This is against the backdrop of increasing COVID-19 cases across the country. And as of Nov. 24, 2021, not quite 63% of the eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated yet.

In our view, no worker – essential or not – should have to choose between a paycheck and risking their health and well-being. As shoppers flock to stores this holiday season in search of the perfect gift for their loved ones or ingredients for that favorite family recipe, their individual choices and consideration of local safety guidelines could help retail workers have a safer and merrier holiday season too.

Brian Mayer receives funding from the Quick Response Research Award Program based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or Natural Hazards Center.

Melissa A. Barnett, Mona Arora, and Sabrina V. Helm do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Spread & Containment

TV Show Mysteriously Deletes Poll After Vast Majority Oppose Mandatory Vaccination

TV Show Mysteriously Deletes Poll After Vast Majority Oppose Mandatory Vaccination

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A major morning television show in the UK deleted a Twitter poll asking if vaccines should be made mandatory..

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TV Show Mysteriously Deletes Poll After Vast Majority Oppose Mandatory Vaccination

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A major morning television show in the UK deleted a Twitter poll asking if vaccines should be made mandatory after the results showed that 89% of respondents oppose compulsory shots.

Yes, really.

Good Morning Britain, which often tries to set the news agenda, posted the poll which asked the public, “With Omicron cases doubling every two days, is it time to make vaccines mandatory?”

The last screenshots Twitter users were able to obtain before the poll was wiped showed 89% oppose mandatory vaccinations, with just 11% in favor after a total of over 42,000 votes.

People demanded to know why the poll had been pulled, although it wasn’t exactly hard to guess.

Why did you delete this poll, is it because you were asked? Or because it shows the people don’t support this s**t, this tyrannical future your colleagues seem to want. We see you,” commented one respondent.

“Guess that wasn’t the answer they were looking for,” remarked another.

Good Morning Britain has failed to explain why it removed the poll.

However, it’s unsurprising given that the broadcast has been a vehicle for pushing pro-lockdown messaging since the start of the pandemic.

For most of that time, it was hosted by Piers Morgan, an aggressive proponent of lockdowns, mandatory vaccines and face masks.

The show also regularly features Dr. Hillary Jones, someone who at the start of the pandemic warned that face masks could make the spread of the virus worse, before getting the memo and doing a complete 180.

*  *  *

Brand new merch now available! Get it at https://www.pjwshop.com/

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Tyler Durden Thu, 12/09/2021 - 03:30

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Science

Life Sciences Expansions Take Off as 2021 Wraps Up

Several life sciences companies and life science-focused real estate firms announced expansion plans as 2021 comes to an end.

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Life Sciences Expansions Take Off as 2021 Wraps Up

Several life sciences companies and life science-focused real estate firms have announced expansion plans as 2021 comes to an end. Here’s a look.

Novavax to Expand Maryland Campus

Novavax, on the cusp of getting its COVID-19 vaccine authorized in numerous countries around the world, is expanding its footprint in Gaithersburg, Md., where it is headquartered. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to authorize the company’s vaccine soon, and so is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Czechia has already ordered 370,000 doses, with deliveries expected at the beginning of 2022. The company also has a deal with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies to manufacture millions of doses of the Novavax vaccines at its facilities in Billingham, U.K., with a £400 million investment in expansion.

Four Corners Acquired 150,000-Square-Foot Complex in Belmont, Calif.

Four Corners Properties acquired a 150,000-square-foot office building in Belmont, Calif., called the Shoreway Innovation Center. The seller was Westlake Group. Westlake bought it in 2016 for $61 million. The company plans to expand its use for life sciences, noting that 82% of it is currently leased to a mix of tenants with an average of less than three years lease term remaining.

“Shoreway Innovation Center offers the opportunity to bring office and life sciences space to a market where tenant demand is far outpacing available supply,” said Mike Taquino, executive vice president of CBRE’s Northern California Capital Markets team.

Genentech Leases Building Under Construction in South San Francisco

Source: BioSpace

Boston Properties and Alexandria Real Estate Equities are leasing a building under construction in South San Francisco to Genentech. It will be the first phase of a life sciences campus. The building is at 751 Gateway and is 229,000 square feet. The campus will be called Gateway Commons and is a joint venture between the two real estate firms. They expect initial occupancy toward the end of 2024. Genentech has been headquartered in South San Francisco for forty years, with a large corporate headquarters made up of 4.7 million square feet of five neighborhood hubs. The new site is about one mile’s distance from their main campus.

Mispro Biotech to Open New Facility in North Carolina in Early 2022

Mispro Biotech Services plans to open a new facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP), N.C., in early 2022. Mispro is a leading contract vivarium organization (CVO). The new facility, a full-service vivarium research facility, will be central to one of RTP’s biopark campuses.

“Since we first opened our doors here in 2013, we have seen incredible growth in the RTP cluster,” said Philippe Lamarre, chief executive officer of Mispro. “The time was right to expand into a new facility with more space and modern amenities where we can support the influx of biotechs who are seeking in vivo lab space.”

Laura Gunter, president of NCBIO, representing the life sciences industry in North Carolina, noted, “Mispro has become a cornerstone of the Triangle ecosystem as contract research and support companies are finding increased favor. Biotechs of all sizes and therapeutic disciplines are focusing more on their core competencies, which is opening the door to innovation like Mispro’s contract vivarium option. We are pleased to see their decision to expand here and support more North Carolina companies.”

BioSpace source:

https://www.biospace.com/article/life-science-companies-announce-expansion-plans-as-they-wrap-up-2021

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Government

Over 170 companies delisted from major U.S. stock exchanges in 12 months

  Over the years, United States-based exchanges have remained an attractive destination for most companies aiming to go public. With businesses jostling to join the trading platforms, the exchanges have also delisted a significant number of companies….

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Over the years, United States-based exchanges have remained an attractive destination for most companies aiming to go public. With businesses jostling to join the trading platforms, the exchanges have also delisted a significant number of companies.

According to data acquired by Finbold, a total of 179 companies have been delisted from the major United States exchanges between 2020 and 2021. In 2021, the number of companies on Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands at 6,000, dropping 2.89% from last year’s figure of 6,179. In 2019, the listed companies stood at 5,454.

NYSE recorded the highest delisting with companies on the platform, dropping 15.28% year-over-year from 2,873 to 2,434. Elsewhere, Nasdaq listed companies grew 7.86% from 3,306 to 3,566. Data on the number of listed companies on NASDAQ and NYSE is provided by The World Federation of Exchanges.

The delisting of the companies is potentially guided by basic factors such as violating listing regulations and failing to meet minimum financial standards like the inability to maintain a minimum share price, financial ratios, and sales levels. Additionally, some companies might opt for voluntary delisting motivated by the desire to trade on other exchanges.

Furthermore, the delisting on U.S. major exchanges might be due to the emergence of new alternative markets, especially in Asia. China and Hong Kong markets have become more appealing, with regulators making local listings more attractive. Over the years, exchanges in the region have strived to emerge as key players amid dominance by U.S. equity markets. As per a previous report, the U.S. controls 56% of the global stock market value.

A significant portion of the delisted companies also stems from the regulatory perspective pitting U.S. agencies and their Chinese counterparts. For instance, China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom, and China Telecom Corp announced their delisting from NYSE, citing investment restrictions dating from 2020.

Worth noting is that the delisting of firms was initiated due to strict measures put in place by the Trump administration. The current administration has left the regulations in place while proposing additional regulations. For instance, a recent regulation update by the Securities Exchange Commission requiring US-listed Chinese companies to disclose their ownership structure has led to the exit of cab-hailing company Didi from the NYSE.

Impact of pandemic on the listing of companies

The delisting also comes in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in economic turmoil. With the shutdown of the economy, most companies entered into bankruptcies as the stock market crashed to historical lows.

Lower stock prices translate to less wealth for businesses, pension funds, and individual investors, and listed companies could not get the much-needed funding for their normal operations.

At the same time, the focus on more companies going public over the last year can be highlighted by firms on the Nasdaq exchange. Worth noting is that in 2020, there was tremendous growth in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), mainly driven by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With the uncertainty of raising money through the traditional means, SPACs found a perfect role to inject more funds into capital-starving companies to go public.

From the data, foreign companies listing in the United States have grown steadily, with the business aiming to leverage the benefits of operating in the country. Notably, listing on U.S. exchanges guarantees companies liquidity and high potential to raise capital. Furthermore, listing on either NYSE or Nasdaq comes with the needed credibility to attract more investors. The companies are generally viewed as a home for established, respected, and successful global companies.

In general, over the past year, factors like the pandemic have altered the face of stock exchanges to some point threatening the continued dominance of major U.S. exchanges. Tensions between the US and China are contributing to the crisis which will eventually impact the number of listed companies.

 

Courtesy of Finbold.

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