Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Kroger Ends "Hero Pay" Program (An Extra $2 Per Hour) And Demands Employees Pay Back What They Already Received

Sarah Jaffe, Dissent Magazine:
UFCW Local 400, which represents 13,000 Kroger employees across seven states and Washington, D.C.:
We have recently received numerous reports of Kroger associates receiving collections letters from their employer. We are committed to investigating each case thoroughly and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our members. No matter how much Kroger wishes it were so, things are not back to normal. This is a time to be rewarding our heroes on the frontlines, not cutting their well-deserved pay.
What makes this all the more frustrating to Copeland is that it's coming just as Kroger decided to end its "hero pay" of $2 extra per hour. The extra hazard pay will end May 17, though the pandemic that made those workers into "heroes" against their will is far from over. "They are taking it away from those people, which is ridiculous as far as I'm concerned because they're still going to require them to wear masks," [Veronica] Copeland [a Kroger employee in Morgantown, West Virginia] said. "If it's dangerous enough that you have to require them to wear masks, why wouldn't you continue that extra pay? It is only $2 an hour, Kroger."

And the company is doing quite well in the pandemic, Copeland noted. Its stock is up, and the company projects continued growth; recent SEC filings show that executives' pay was up in fiscal year 2019 by millions—the CEO had a 75 percent increase in his compensation over the previous year. It bought back $355 million of its own shares in the first quarter.
They are making money hand over fist. Before all this started ... we had our first million-dollar week ever. A million-dollar week in our little tiny store, and we've hit it now a few times. ...

I went to the store one time and it was just way overcrowded. The customers were not adhering to anything. ... [I]t was a nightmare in there. I started going to a much slower grocery store that I can get in and out without having to see that many people. I would much rather go to Kroger because I get a discount there, but I just can't because it is just too many people.

I've talked to several of my coworkers. They are terrified every day because they still can't get a lot of the customers to adhere to the rules. Management won't be forceful enough with customers. They don't want to offend any customers.

Someone from Texas tweeted that Walmart is forcing its employees to wear masks and gloves . . . and is docking their pay to cover the costs. ... That has to be illegal (though it is Texas).
Walmart reported more than $129 billion in profits last year.

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