Kroger recently announced plans to end its COVID paid sick leave policy for associates who are not vaccinated. UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici sent the following response to the company:
We received the changes to your COVID-19 policies impacting employee leave and benefits. As we have discussed many times over the last year, we are in agreement that getting as many people vaccinated as possible is in all of our interest. We have been and will continue to encourage all of our members who are eligible to get vaccinated and get boosters. We also appreciate that Kroger has paid and continues to offer employees $100 when they get vaccinated.
The policy changes you have announced for the new year will not move us closer to accomplishing our goal of getting people vaccinated and getting us out of this pandemic. Ending paid leave for unvaccinated employees who contract COVID-19 will force people who are not vaccinated to decide between missing a paycheck or going to work sick. Many cannot afford to miss a paycheck.
Beginning this policy just as the omicron variant is surging around the world is particularly misguided. Evidence to date indicates the omicron is more contagious and potentially causes more breakthrough infections among vaccinated people. This policy will only guarantee that you will have more COVID positive individuals in your stores during this surge, putting everyone at greater risk.
We hope that you will reconsider these changes and instead work with Local 400 to put in place policies that will keep employees and customers safe and incentivize more of our members to get vaccinated.