AFS Does Not Rely on Mandated Hikes for Wages and Benefits

Among the many news articles published around the New Year, were national stories with headlines that read “21 States Will See Minimum Wage Increase by January 1st” (CNN 12/31/2021) or “New Year to Bring Higher Minimum Wages in Record Number of States and Cities” (CBS News 12/29/2021). Closer to home, titles told a similar story but with a local spin and a more dire headline “Minimum Wages are Going Up in 26 States in 2022. Why Isn’t Utah Among Them?” (Deseret News 12/30/2021).

The headlines for Utah and minimum wages may seem concerning for local Associated Food Stores’ team members waiting for state-wide legislative action to raise wages. However, those fears need not be realized for one simple reason: Associated does not rely upon government-mandated hikes to direct wages and benefits. Instead, salaries and benefits are calculated using local and industry standards and the needs of the team.

“The team certainly comes first,” said Tim Conner, Sr. VP Team Services. “We evaluate our rates of pay annually, using several professional national surveys to insure we remain competitive in the marketplace.”

Associated also takes into account current needs of the entire organization when calculating salaries. Currently, order selectors in Farr West are needed to keep the supply chain running efficiently.

“Order Selector starting rate of pay at the distribution center has increased over 8% in one year due to market competition and the difficult nature of the job,” confirmed Conner.

Assuring our guests have an exceptional experience in our stores has always been, and will continue to be, a hallmark for AFS retail locations. Given the current labor environment (2.3% unemployment in Utah) recruiting and retaining excellent team members continues to be a priority for leadership.

“We will always do everything we can to be very competitive when it comes to wages and benefits for our team at retail,” said David Rice, Exec. VP, Retail & ARO President. “Minimum-wage standards may be necessary in some places of work, but as of now, except in a couple of isolated instances where being paid minimum wage is requested, the vast majority of our team members are well above that mark.”

Evaluating pay and benefits will be an ongoing priority for the leaders at AFS, as it was a focus during the just-concluded year of 2021. “Average rates of pay at ARO (Associated Retail Operations) have risen more this past year than any year prior due to the competitiveness in the marketplace, an average of 3.5% this last year; some jobs more, some jobs less,” said Conner.

Retaining team members throughout the system is vital for the long-term success of AFS. In addition to base salary, we have recently seen bonuses for hero (COVID) pay, and an increase to 10% discounts for all grocery purchases for team members and families at participating retail locations. A healthy subsidy for insurance benefits and a matching 401(k) program are also

available for qualified team members. Any team members needing additional information about these benefits should speak with their manager, store director or TSS, or any member of Team Services.

While minimum wage headlines may raise concern for employees in Utah, a review of the current and continued actions by AFS leadership should assure team members that they have been and continue to be the most integral component for a successful AFS system.