PUGET SOUNDS REGION, WA – Kroger-owned grocery stores across the West notified essential grocery workers that starting May 17th, the company will eliminate the $2.00 an hour bonus called “Hero Pay.” Grocery store employees, deemed essential workers by the government, are a constant on the frontline in all natural disasters or national crises-- risking their lives to ensure America is fed no matter what.
In response to Kroger’s announcement, UFCW Local Unions are calling on the public to support these #EssentialHeroes in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming asking Kroger to maintain Hero Pay and improve store safety practices and provide testing to all employees as COVID-19 continues to plague local communities, and the UFCW membership.
“We have been working hard from day one of this crisis, putting our own health at risk to serve our community, and now Kroger’s response is to say that they are going to take away our pay. Meanwhile in many stores they are still dropping the ball on limiting the number of people in the store at one time to allow proper social distancing,” said Chuck Svac, a member of UFCW 21 from the Fred Meyer store in Port Orchard.
Fred Meyer and QFC are the two Kroger store banners in the Puget Sound area.
Together, these local unions represent over 100,000 essential grocery workers in these five western states and approximately 55,000 of these are at Kroger stores. Unions have seen an uptick in cases of infection of COVID-19 amongst their respective grocery worker members.
“We will continue to recognize and support the frontline workers through this COVID-19 crisis and beyond and demand that their employer do the same by continuing to pay the $2.00/hr "HERO" pay and provide a safe working environment for these workers,” said Steve Chandler, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 38. “These workers have proven themselves as dedicated employees of Kroger which is reflected in them tirelessly serving the customers on a daily basis.”
The decision by Kroger to rip away this well-deserved pay increase comes at the same time these essential grocery workers -- American heroes -- are mourning the loss of their Union brothers and sisters to COVID-19 and more workers are falling ill.
Seven UFCW Local unions across the Western US and Teamsters 38 in Snohomish County, representing over 55,000 members who work at Kroger stores, have united to bring attention to Kroger’s unjustified decision to take away Hero Pay as states reopen. We encourage customers to support grocery workers as these #EssentialHeroes and continue to support them during local stay-at-home orders and the global pandemic. Local Unions are also continuing to call on Kroger to more effectively limit the number of shoppers in a store at one time in order to allow for safe 6 ft distancing, and also have all workers and shoppers wear masks.
Please support your community grocery workers—our #EssentialHeroes—by telling Kroger how you feel about their takeaway of the Hero pay.