The United Food and Commercial Workers Union that represents more than a million essential workers including grocery store employees held a teleconference on Wednesday to address safety issues and the $2 an hour “hero” hazard pay coming to tan end at the Kroger Corporation.
Marc Perrone, the president of the union says he can’t believe these essential workers once hailed as heroes are now passed over for the extra compensation they deserve, “I mean all of a sudden now you’re not significant any more, that’s you know, I‘m sorry but that gets me hot under the collar.”
An internal report shows dozens of their union members have died and thousands have been sickened with coronavirus.
Kroger employees say they’ve had to deal with hostile customers especially when they’re out of products or trying to enforce masks and social distancing.
Kristine Holtham, who works at a Kroger in Michigan says even when they ask nicely, they’re abused by customers, “We’re scared, people in my store are scared to death to even ask anybody to put on a mask.”
“Those sort of things need to be rectified in these stores and those hazards need to be removed,” says Perrone.
These employees say not only have they been working during the pandemic but have stepped up their hours.
“Where was I on Easter? I was here. Where was I on Mother’s Day? I was here. I am here every single day, six days a week for the last eight weeks, says Raquel Salorio, who works at a Ralphs in San Diego.
Salorio says five members of her family work for the company and they don’t want to be called heroes, “Two of those members are my children 24 and 21-years-old, we’re not heroes, we’re far from heroes, I don’t have a cape, this is my cape, every single day,” she says as she puts on her face covering.
But they do want to be compensated for a job they never imagined would require risking their lives.
“I don’t know why they would be taking our hazard pay away so Kroger for the 460 thousand associates you have, please do the right thing, More than ever our community needs us so more than ever we need Kroger to back us up, help us,” says Salorio as she breaks down in tears and apologizes.
After widespread criticism in ending hazard pay, Kroger Corp. decided to give employees what they’re calling a “thank you” bonus. Full time employees will get a one time $400 bonus and part timers will get a one time $200 bonus. Still the union says if you do the math it’s a lot less than the $2 an hour employees were counting on and deserve.
We reached out to the Kroger Corporation. We did not hear back.