America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Kroger to Use $2.6 Billion in Pandemic Profits to Protect Company’s 450,000 Grocery Workers on Frontlines as COVID-19 Threat Grows
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million frontline and essential workers, condemned the move by Kroger to pour money into a high-tech shopping cart instead of using these funds to strengthen protections for its frontline workers. The move comes as Kroger reports $2.6 billion in pandemic profits and refuses to reverse its cut to hazard pay for its 450,000 grocery workers, despite a new wave of COVID-19 grocery outbreaks putting these essential workers more at risk than at any point in the pandemic.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“A new wave of COVID-19 grocery outbreaks is endangering shoppers and workers across the country, and instead of strengthening safeguards, Kroger is using its billions in profit on a high-tech shopping cart. With 4,000 Americans dying from COVID-19 every day, essential businesses like Kroger should be laser focused on safety, not a shiny new object to impress wealthy shareholders.
“With multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at Kroger stores in the past month, the company must wake up to this threat and take immediate action to strengthen safeguards, fully enforce mask mandates, restore hazard pay for their brave frontline workers, and ensure that all of their employees have paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. Americans need to know their grocery stores are safe for shoppers and workers, and that is what Kroger needs to be focused on.”
UFCW has been a leading national voice for frontline workers during the pandemic and recently urged governors in all 50 states to prioritize essential workers for COVID-19 vaccine access. As the union for hundreds of thousands of Kroger grocery workers, UFCW has called on the company to reverse its move to cut hazard pay nearly 250 days ago and immediately strengthen safeguards in stores to protect its 450,000 grocery workers who are increasingly at risk as the pandemic worsens.
Kroger grocery stores have reported multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in the past month, including outbreaks at a Food 4 Less in Southern California and a Fred Meyer in the Seattle area infecting nearly three dozen workers. Additionally, nearly 200 grocery workers were infected at a single Costco in Washington State.
COVID Numbers: UFCW reported that among the union’s members, there have been at least 124 grocery worker deaths from COVID-19 with over 23,100 grocery workers infected or exposed.
UFCW has been leading the push to support grocery workers across the industry. The union recently helped advance new grocery worker hazard pay measures in San Francisco as well as Los Angeles and Long Beach, the first cities in the country acting to restore pandemic pay, a critical lifeline for workers and their families. This comes amid an explosion in COVID-19 grocery outbreaks in Los Angeles and Seattle. In recent months, UFCW’s national hazard pay campaign has already helped secure new deals helping over 120,000 grocery workers across the country.
The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org