HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Some Kroger employees are calling on the grocery store chain to extend a coronavirus hourly pay increase that is set to expire.
On March 29, Kroger raised the store associate pay wage by $2 per hour. That pay increase, called “hero pay,” is scheduled to end on May 16.
“It feels like they just snapped their fingers and made it happen and now are just snapping their fingers and making it go away,” said Lisa Harris, who has worked for Kroger for 13 years.
Harris works on the front end, helping with self-checkout. Harris loves her job but said the last couple of months have been hectic at her Mechanicsville store.
“It’s pretty crazy and we’re a little scared because most of us see a few hundred people a day,” Harris said.
She said “hero pay” quickly adds up and the extra cash is helping many employees.
“I know it’s hard to conceptualize for some people how much that would be or how that would affect your life, but it’s literally the difference between paying a bill and not paying it,” said Harris.
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, the union representing Kroger associates, said Kroger sales were up by 30 percent in March and they expect that trend to continue. The union has started a petition pushing to extend the pay increase.
“Anybody that wants to maintain what they were getting in their checks in the previous weeks are going to have to work much more than they were, and to the detriment of their health. You need to have time to sleep and recuperate from stuff like this,” said Harris.
In a statement to 8News, Kroger said:
Throughout the pandemic, Kroger’s top priority is to provide and maintain a safe environment for our associates and customers with open stores, comprehensive digital solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain, so that our communities always have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials.
The Kroger Family of Companies has invested over $700 million dollars to reward our associates and safeguardassociates, customers and our communities during the pandemic. We have also provided new career opportunities to more than 80,000 workers nationwide, including those from the hardest-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels and food service distributors, to support our retail, ecommerce, manufacturing and logistics operations.
Our temporary Hero Bonus is scheduled to end in mid-May. In the coming months, we know that our associates’ needs will continue to evolve and change as our country recovers. Our commitment is that we will continue to listen and be responsive, empowering us to make decisions that advance the needs of our associates, customers, communities and business. We continuously evaluate employee compensation and benefits packages.
We are committed to the continued support of our associates’ safety and mental well-being, and we’ll continue our ongoing discussions on these critical aspects with the UFCW.”Kroger
Here are a few of the ways we’ll continue to invest in, support and protect our associates:
- Offering testing to associates based on symptoms and medical need
- Providing Emergency Leave to associates most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms and providing paid time off
- Supplying masks for all associates and encouraging them to stay home if they are sick and encouraging customers to wear masks in our stores, or alternatively, use ecommerce services
- Providing benefits packages, which includes healthcare coverage and retirement benefits
- Offering $5 million through our Helping Hands fund to provide financial support to certain associates experiencing hardships due to COVID-19, including childcare costs
- Making available mental health resources
- Continued implementation of customer capacity limits and special shopping hour for senior shoppers and higher-risk customers
- Continued plexiglass partitions and physical distancing floor decals
- Expanding Contact-free payment solutions like Scan, Bag, Go and Kroger Pay
- No-contact delivery option, low-contact pickup service and a ship-to-home offering
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