Arizona grocery workers get coronavirus pay increase

Business News | 1 Apr |

Today, the Kroger Co. and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union announced a new increase to the pay and benefits for more than 16,000 Arizona grocery workers at Fry’s and Smith’s stores across the state. This victory for more than 460,000 Kroger grocery workers nationwide was secured by UFCW, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, retail, and other industries. UFCW welcomed the action by Kroger as an essential investment in grocery workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak  

“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. “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 hardworking men and women on the front lines who are serving our communities every day throughout this national crisis.” 

“Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the frontlines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” said Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. “The Hero Bonus is just one more way we continue to convey our thanks and gratitude not only to our existing associates but also to the more than 30,000 new hires who have joined in the past two weeks and those who will soon join the Kroger Family of Companies.” 

Background: 

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. UFCW and Kroger announced the following increases to pay, benefits, and protections for frontline associates across the country:

• $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. 

“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,” UFCW International President Perrone added. “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.” 

Additional Associate Support and Resources 

In addition to the $2 per hour pay increase, UFCW and Kroger have worked together to take several additional actions to support associates, including:

Earlier Access to Pay: Beginning next 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.

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