Kroger ending coronavirus 'hero pay' for workers Sunday

Supermarket operator has seen sales soar in the coronavirus pandemic

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

Continue Reading Below

With sales soaring during the coronavirus pandemic, supermarket company Kroger is ending its "hero bonus" of an additional $2 per hour for its hourly workers on May 17.

The company, the largest U.S. supermarket operator by revenue, announced the bonus for essential employees on March 31.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
KRKROGER33.16+0.40+1.22%

"Our temporary Hero Bonus is scheduled to end in mid-May. In the coming months, we know that our associates' needs will continue to evolve and change as our country recovers. Our commitment is that we will continue to listen and be responsive," a Kroger spokesperson told FOX Business, adding that the company's "average hourly wage is $15 and with benefits factored in, like health care, the hourly wage is over $20."

The spokesperson added that Kroger "has invested over $700 million dollars to reward our associates and safeguard associates, customers and our communities during the pandemic."

The company announced Thursday that it has hired more than 100,000 workers since March.

TYSON REDUCES SOME BEEF PRICES AS CORONAVIRUS PUSHES GROCERY STORE COSTS HIGHER

The supermarket has been supplying workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), enhancing store sanitation, offering testing to employees with symptoms, providing more health care benefits and changing store hours since late March/ early April.

MCDONALD'S UNVEILS CORONAVIRUS REOPENING PLAN: EMPTY TABLES, MODIFIED BEVERAGE PROCEDURES

The company said April 1 sales "sharply accelerated" in March as customers stocked up on essentials.

Some customers and workers have expressed outrage at the company's decision to end the bonuses with the COVID-19 pandemic and many shelter-in-place orders ongoing.

Kroger disclosed Tuesday that CEO Rodney McMullen received target direct total compensation of $14.3 million in 2019, up 3.6% over 2018.

United Food and Commercial Workers union presidents representing Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana sent a letter addressed to McMullen on May 6 asking the company to extend its hero pay "for as long as we face a global pandemic."

"Statements from Kroger about 'starting the path to recovery' and 'beginning to see a return to normal' do not reflect the reality of the increasing number of cases and deaths across the country. No one knows how long this will last and no one knows what normal will look like when the threat of COVID-19 is over. There is no path to recovery from a virus that has no cure," the UFCW presidents wrote.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

Multiple Kroger workers have died of COVID-19, including Michigan cashier James Andres and a Tennessee store manager.

"Throughout the pandemic, our top priority is to provide and maintain a safe environment for our associates and customers with open stores, comprehensive digital solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain, so that our communities always have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials," the Kroger spokesperson said.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS