Some grocery workers to receive wage bump during pandemic

Business

SAN DIEGO — Hourly workers at select grocery stores throughout Southern California will receive either a small bonus or a temporary wage bump as customers flood to the markets to stock up on supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers at Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions, will be getting a $2-an-hour raise for at least one week due to the crisis, the stores announced Friday.

Stater Bros. has said it too will boost its hourly wages by $2 for four weeks, and Target also said Friday it was boosting pay $2 an hour.

“We hope that this sends a message to every supermarket, grocery store, and food retail employer — union and non-union — across this country that it is time for every company to recognize the sacrifice America’s food workers are making,” United Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone said in a statement.

Meanwhile, hourly workers at Southland Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores will be getting a small bonus for their work helping to keep the stores open during the coronavirus pandemic, the stores’ ownership company announced. The onetime bonuses will amount to $300 for full-time employees and $150 for part-time workers.

“Grocery workers are on the frontlines, ensuring Americans have access to the food and products they need during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, which owns the supermarket chains. “Our associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers. I am incredibly grateful for all they are doing. The true heroes in this story are our associates, and we want to provide them with additional resources and support to help them continue their remarkable effort.”

Kroger said Saturday the bonus will be paid to hourly “frontline associates” hired on or before March 1, 2020, and covers the payroll period from March 8-28, meaning it will be payable on April 3.

The stores also expanded their COVID-19 emergency leave guidelines to include paid time off for self-isolation and symptoms as verified by an accredited health care professional. This expands the new guidelines, announced on March 14, which allows paid time off for associates diagnosed with or placed under quarantine due to COVID-19. In each scenario, all associates will be eligible to receive their standard pay for up to two weeks (14 days).

“We believe that by expanding our emergency leave guidelines, more of our associates can feel certain knowing that if their health is affected by or if they experience symptoms of COVID-19, they will be supported while they stay at home and recover,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief people officer. “We are appreciative of all of our managers who have been working individually with associates in recognition that every associate’s situation is personal. We also want to make it easier for associates to follow our guidance to stay home if they feel sick and to do our part to flatten the curve.”

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