LANDOVER, MD (May 12, 2020) – United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, the union representing Kroger store associates, has condemned the company for its plans to cancel its so-called “hero pay” $2.00/hour pay increase after May 16th. The union is calling on the company to extend the bonus indefinitely until the end of this crisis for all Kroger associates continuing to work.
The union has launched an online petition targeting Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and is gathering signatures from thousands of Kroger union members in Virginia and West Virginia, as well as stores on the Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee borders.
“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.”
UFCW has called on every employer as well as policymakers at the local, state and federal level to institute a suite of new policies to protect workers and customers, including:
- Declaring grocery store workers “first responders” or emergency personnel so they have access to the benefits and protections others in those categories receive, especially access to testing, treatment, and personal protective equipment (Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont have already done this)
- Limiting the number of customers in a store to 10 people per 10,000 square feet and a maximum of 50 people in a store at a given time to be enforced by additional security staff (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island have recently placed limits on customers in stores, as has Kanawha County, WV)
- Mandating an additional 14 paid sick days to be used without the need to a positive COVID-19 test or quarantine order
- Mandating paid leave of 12 weeks for those in high risk categories such as those over 60, immune-compromised individuals, and those who need to care for sick loved ones
- Access to free childcare (Maryland has already done this)
- Increased security at all stores, both through store security and increased police patrols
- Banning any discipline relating to time and attendance
- Mandatory wiping down of grocery carts, self-scan screens, and credit card touch screens after each use
- Public address announcements at regular intervals reminding people to maintain a 6-foot distance from employees and other customers
- Requiring a six-foot distance be kept from cashiers and other customers in line at check stands
- Requiring that only every other check stand and self scan be open
- Requiring shorter store hours or 7am-9pm to allow for additional cleaning, stocking, and rest time
- Mandating that employees be allowed to wear masks and gloves even if they are not sick
- Requiring employers to provide adequate amounts of masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer
- Mandating hazard pay with a minimum of at least $2 an hour and double time for any overtime hours worked
- Requiring stores to supply masks to all employees and customers to wear while in the store
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.