Presidents of UFCW Locals in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky sent additional correspondence to Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen, calling on him for additional hourly compensation for Kroger workers. The letter is as follows:
Across the country, COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing and putting frontline workers more at risk than ever before – including Kroger workers. Throughout the ongoing coronavirus crisis, access to food has been essential, and it is made possible because of the serious risks that our members – Kroger workers – are willing to take in order to keep stores stocked and open. They are continuing to show up for our communities in the face of this growing danger they face with cases continuing to increase, and more of our friends, neighbors, and family getting exposed or sick every day.And, as you know, among the frontline workers who face the gravest of risks are grocery and food workers who often interact with thousands of customers every single day.
Kroger says its “most urgent priority” is “meeting our societal obligation to provide open stores, e-commerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials.” Accomplishing this is impossible without our members, the Kroger workers, who are continuing to serve the public amidst a raging health crisis.
We cannot wish or ignore away a global pandemic. The reality is that grocery workers continue to get sick and die from COVID-19. A new Harvard study found that 1 in 5 grocery workers had COVID-19, with most workers showing no symptoms. Additionally, a new report confirms there have already been over 130 grocery worker deaths and thousands of grocery workers infected or exposed to the virus.
Throughout a pandemic, during the holidays, and all year long, members of UFCW work to ensure that people in our communities have the food and supplies they need at Kroger stores all across our region. These workers have earned additional compensation for the hazards that still very much exist. While fuel points and gift cards are a step in the right direction, Kroger workers deserve the extra money in their pay checks for continuing to work during the worst pandemic in a century.
Instead of continuing to invest in your shareholders and corporate employees (many of whom can and are working from home, away from stores or crowded offices), invest in your frontline workers. As this pandemic rages on and the risks workers face grow, America’s food retail companies, including Kroger, continue to authorize billions in stock buybacks for wealthy shareholders. Meanwhile, profits are up, by 90% according to one recent study, while you seemingly ignore the danger employees are facing on the frontlines of this pandemic.
We will only get through this crisis together, and that begins with Kroger putting workers first, not the corporate bottom line. Please do what is right and compensate our members – Kroger workers – with the additional hourly pay they so deserve.