Just days after announcing it would end hazard “hero” pay to front-line workers, Kroger says it will give them extra “thank you” bonuses, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The move comes after an outcry from the grocery store’s union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International, which said workers are still risking their lives by coming to work.
The bonus is $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time workers to be paid out in two installments on May 30 and June 18, Kroger announced Friday.
Hazard pay was a $2-per-hour supplement.
Over the past weeks, our associates have shown us the true meaning of the word hero. To recognize their hard work, the Kroger Family of Companies is providing a Hero Bonus of $2/hour in addition to their base pay for the next three weeks. Learn more: https://t.co/zROeM2dYsg pic.twitter.com/o4dAZrQlaA
— Kroger News (@KrogerNews) April 1, 2020
UFCW Local 75 president Kevin Garvey said the union will continue to pressure the company to provide bonus pay for as long as the pandemic goes on.
“COVID-19 is not going away soon,” he said. “Our members still have to work in the same conditions and deal with the same pressures. They are worth every penny of the $2.00 premium and the [latest] bonus.”
Our associates are the true heroes of our most urgent mission—to be here for our customers when they need us most. Read more about our latest efforts to provide them with additional resources and support, including our expanded emergency leave guidelines: https://t.co/9HErKzomar pic.twitter.com/4lgBYEVDHp
— Kroger News (@KrogerNews) March 21, 2020
The Cincinnati-based company did not address the dispute with its union in its announcement. The grocer estimates the new bonus will provide $130 million to its workers.
“Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America while also helping to flatten the curve during the initial phases of the pandemic,” CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement.
“To recognize and thank our associates for their incredible work during this historic time, we offered special pay in March, April and May.”
Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America during the #COVID19 pandemic. To continue recognizing and showing our appreciation, we are awarding a combined $130 million in Thank You Pay to our hourly frontline associates. Read more: https://t.co/xCVC2S1pxy pic.twitter.com/x4YU2Tb5kP
— Kroger News (@KrogerNews) May 15, 2020
Nationwide, UFCW International estimates that at least 65 grocery workers have died at Kroger and other retailers after contracting the coronavirus.
Also on Friday, UFCW International called on 49 major grocery companies, including at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco and Sam’s Club, to extend hazard pay for their workers.
In his letter, Perrone challenged the companies’ executives to publicly state they think the dangers of COVID-19 have passed if they chose to stop hazard pay.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks.
For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.
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