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Kroger giving workers 'thank you' pay after outcry over ending $2 per hour bump

Rallies were held at Fred Meyer stores seeking additional pay for workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: AP
Heather Day, right, takes part in a protest outside the Fred Meyer grocery store in Burien, Wash., against Fred Meyer's parent company Kroger, Friday, May 15, 2020, that was organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. K(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

SPOKANE, Wash — Kroger announced Friday that it will provide “thank you" payments to hourly employees after a union outcry over the company ending a $2 per hour pay bump it implemented in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union held rallies Friday at Fred Meyer stores, which Kroger owns, seeking additional pay for workers while the pandemic continues.

Kroger officials said Friday that bonus payments of $400 and $200 for full- and part-time employees will be paid in two installments in May and June. The total value is $130 million, the company said in a statement.

“Our associates have been instrumental in feeding America while also helping to flatten the curve during the initial phases of the pandemic,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “As the country moves toward reopening, we will continue to safeguard our associates’ health and well-being and recognize their work."

Testing for the coronavirus is available for Fred Meyer employees based on their symptoms and medical need, said Fred Meyer spokesperson Jeffrey Temple. Workers who are most directly affected by the virus or experiencing related symptoms have been provided with emergency leave or paid time off, he said. Kroger said that would continue.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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