On Jan. 14, the UFCW condemned the move by Kroger to pour money into a high-tech shopping cart instead of using these funds to strengthen protections for its frontline workers. The move comes as Kroger reports $2.6 billion in pandemic profits and refuses to reverse its cut to hazard pay for its 450,000 grocery workers, despite a new wave of COVID-19 grocery outbreaks.
The UFCW represents hundreds of thousands of Kroger grocery workers and has called on the company to reverse its move to cut hazard pay nearly 250 days ago and to immediately strengthen safeguards in stores to protect its employees who are increasingly at risk as the pandemic worsens. Our union recently reported that among our members, there have been at least 124 grocery worker COVID-19 deaths with over 23,100 grocery workers infected or exposed to the virus. Kroger grocery stores have reported multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in the past month, including outbreaks at a Food 4 Less in Southern California and a Fred Meyer in the Seattle area.
“A new wave of COVID-19 grocery outbreaks is endangering shoppers and workers across the country, and instead of strengthening safeguards, Kroger is using its billions in profit on a high-tech shopping cart,” said UFCW International President Marc Perrone in a statement. “With 4,000 Americans dying from COVID-19 every day, essential businesses like Kroger should be laser focused on safety, not a shiny new object to impress wealthy shareholders.”
“With multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at Kroger stores in the past month, the company must wake up to this threat and take immediate action to strengthen safeguards, fully enforce mask mandates, restore hazard pay for their brave frontline workers, and ensure that all of their employees have paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost,” Perrone added. “Americans need to know their grocery stores are safe for shoppers and workers, and that is what Kroger needs to be focused on.”