On March 31, the UFCW and Kroger Co. announced a new increase to the pay and benefits for the company’s more than 460,000 workers across the country. The UFCW welcomed the increase as an essential investment in grocery workers who are on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.
The UFCW and Kroger have been working closely to ensure that these grocery workers are able to continue to provide the necessary food and supplies to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, and the increases to pay, benefits, and protections include:
- $2 per hour pay increase which will be paid to hourly frontline associates in retail stores, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, central fills, pharmacies and contact call centers for the next three weeks at which point UFCW and Kroger will revisit discussions.
- Providing emergency paid leave: This ensures that any associates who are affected by COVID-19 – whether experiencing symptoms and self-isolating, diagnosed or placed in quarantine – can recover with the financial support they need.
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing protocols which include allowing associates to wash their hands and sanitize their registers every 30 minutes.
- Shortened store operating hours to provide ample time to allow restocking, cleaning, and to provide appropriate rest and relief for associates.
- Installing plexiglass partitions at check lanes, pharmacy and Starbucks registers across each store.
- Adding floor decals to promote physical distancing at check lanes and other counters.
In addition, the UFCW and Kroger have worked together to take several additional actions to support associates, including:
- Earlier access to pay: Beginning this week, the Kroger Family of Companies is adding ExpressPay – a new benefit that allows most hourly associates to access some of their pay faster, putting money in their pockets sooner than usual.
- Financial assistance for childcare and other needs: Kroger will make $5 million available for those facing hardship, including lack of access to childcare and for those considered high-risk due to COVID-19 through the Kroger Family of Companies Helping Hands fund.
- Employee hotline: Kroger will offer an associate hotline to answer benefit questions quickly.
- Expanded health care services: Kroger will provide access to mental health services and other benefits to support associates’ mental and physical well-being during this stressful time.
“Following talks between UFCW, America’s largest food and retail union, and Kroger, UFCW is proud to join the company today in announcing a $2 per hour wage increase, additional emergency paid leave, new workplace safety measures, and other critical worker protections,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement.
“Working together, UFCW and Kroger have listened to workers and customers across the country to identify the most urgent needs and determine the best way to support these hard-working men and women on the front lines who are serving our communities every day throughout this national crisis,” Perrone added. “Today’s increase in pay and benefits is a good first step in our ongoing conversations with Kroger to keep customers and workers safe in stores during this crisis. We look forward to continuing to work with Kroger to strengthen support and protections for these essential workers on the front lines of this outbreak as they continue to serve families across the country.”