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A gloved shopper prepares to load up her purchases in the Kroger parking lot in northeast Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
By The Skanner News
Published: 08 May 2020

Kroger-owned grocery stores across the West notified essential grocery workers that starting May 17, the company will eliminate the $2.00 an hour bonus called “Hero Pay.”  Grocery store employees, deemed essential workers by the government, are a constant on the frontline in all natural disasters or national crises-- risking their lives to ensure America is fed no matter what.

In response to Kroger’s announcement, UFCW Local Unions are calling on the public to support these #EssentialHeroes in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming asking Kroger to maintain Hero Pay and improve store safety practices and provide testing to all employees as COVID-19 continues to plague local communities, and the UFCW membership.

“I don't think it’s fair to stop hazard pay while we are still in the midst of this pandemic.

"If I have to wear a mask, and get my temperature checked to ensure the safety of others, then I believe I should also be given hazard pay. I also don't agree with the 50% capacity of the stores. Almost 50% of the store is apparel and home where no one is going to shop. No one is social distancing and it makes it hard trying to fill the shelves when there are 15 people in front of my section. When you try to enforce the social distancing for safety reasons, customers get agitated and aggressive towards us. We are exhausted and trying our best to keep them and ourselves safe.” said Erin, a member of UFCW Local 555.

Together, these local unions represent over 100,000 essential grocery workers in these five states and approximately 55,000 of these are at Kroger stores. Unions have seen an uptick in cases of infection of COVID-19 amongst their respective grocery worker members.

Seven UFCW Local unions and across the West have united to bring attention to Kroger’s unjustified decision to take away Hero Pay as states reopen, encouraging customers to support grocery workers as these #EssentialHeroes continue to support them during local stay-at-home orders and the global pandemic. Locals are also continuing to call on Kroger to more effectively limit the number of shoppers in a store at one time in order to allow for safe 6 ft distancing, and also have all workers and shoppers wear masks.

“Essential employees are literally putting their lives on the line for their employer and communities; we need everyone to step up to protect essential workers and their families. Until all essential employees are tested and contact tracing is in place, the risk of letting up on safety measures is too great,” said Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555.

"In this situation, ill handled risk can and will be measured in deaths,” said Dan Clay, President of UFCW Local 555.

Please support your community grocery workers—our #EssentialHeroes—by telling Kroger how you feel about their takeaway of the Hero pay.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 represents over 24,000 workers in Oregon and SW Washington from across a wide variety of industries, including retail, manufacturing, and health care. Local 555 is chartered by the UFCW International Union, putting us in the company of over 1.3 million workers across the United States and Canada. Over our 80+ year history, we’ve grown into the single largest private sector union in Oregon and the 17th largest UFCW local in North America.

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