Kroger announced that it will provide a $130 million Thank You Pay to hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy, and call center associates to acknowledge their dedication to maintaining safe, clean, and stocked stores during the coronavirus pandemic.
The supermarket chain’s new $130 million Thank You Pay bookends an Appreciation Pay first provided to frontline workers for their efforts at the start of the pandemic in March. It also follows multiple Hero Bonuses that were paid in April through mid-May, with a final payment by May 23.
“Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America while also helping to flatten the curve during the initial phases of the pandemic. To recognize and thank our associates for their incredible work during this historic time, we offered special pay in March, April, and May,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman, and CEO.
The one-time Thank You Pay, which will be $400 for qualified full-time associates and $200 for qualified part-time associates, will be paid out in two installments on May 30 and June 18.
“As the country moves toward reopening, we will continue to safeguard our associates’ health and well-being and recognize their work. At the same time, we will continue running a sustainable business that provides steady employment and opportunities to learn and grow for over half a million associates,” said McMullen.
The Kroger Family of Companies also announced that it will continue its COVID-19 Emergency Leave guidelines to provide paid time off to associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms.
“We want our associates to continue to feel supported in prioritizing their health,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief people officer. “Our associates should only be working if they are healthy and symptom free. By continuing paid emergency leave, our associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms should feel supported in staying home, promoting a safer environment to work and shop in.”
Meanwhile, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union, sent a letter to 49 CEOs of major U.S. supermarket chains, including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and many others, condemning them for failing to extend emergency pay and protections for supermarket workers who continue to work despite the risk they face from the coronavirus.
In the letter, UFCW International President Marc Perrone urged them to reverse the decision to end so-called hazard pay for their employees and publicly acknowledge that the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to cost lives across the country. According to a new internal UFCW estimate, it shows that at least 65 supermarket workers have died and at least 9,810 have been infected or exposed to the deadly virus.
“For the sake of these workers, our families, and our nation’s food supply, we ask you to remember your responsibility to ensure that these workers are receiving the premium payments that they have rightfully earned by facing the very risks that so many Americans—including all of you—have been lucky enough to avoid,” Perrone said in the message to executives at major supermarkets across the country.