Kroger's to Eliminate Hero Pay
The $2/hr bonus is ending even though the COVID-19 pandemic continues
While the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc on states across the country, one of the nation’s largest supermarkets has decided that the crisis is over and has begun cutting pay for their frontline workers.
Kroger’s has announced that on May 16th the company will no longer pay their employees a $2/hr hazard pay bonus. The bonus was established in April and was given to all grocery store, pharmacy and call center workers. These workers were deemed essential and forced to come to work throughout the pandemic. The UFCW, the union that represents more than 100,000 grocery store workers including those at Krogers, says that dozens of grocery store workers have died due to COVID-19.
The bonuses, which the company referred to as “Hero Pay” were an important gesture for workers who are often paid at or slightly above the minimum wage. UFCW unions that represent Kroger workers are calling on the company to continue the bonuses until the crisis is over.
“Our members have risked their lives and the lives of their families to continue coming to work to serve customers through this crisis,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400. “The danger they face everyday is still present, and with no vaccine in sight, will continue to be for quite some time. These heroes deserve to be compensated for the service they continue to provide to the community. Kroger is making more money than ever right now. While other businesses have shuttered as a result of this pandemic, the grocery industry is booming. Kroger workers achieved a remarkable 30% increase in identical store sales in March, a trend we expect will continue in April and May. Now is not the time to cut wages for heroes on the frontlines. These heroes deserve to share in the financial success they have created for Kroger.”
With only 14 states meeting the CDC’s recommendation for reopening, the threat to grocery store workers is ongoing. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control and, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery," said Dr. Anthony Fauci to Congress this week.
The UFCW is also asking Kroger and other supermarket chains to continue to provide PPE for workers and institute sick leave policies for those who contract COVID-19. With a vaccine months away and no treatment insight, the UFCW wants to ensure that their frontline members are protected and taken care of in case they get sick.