Kroger to close two more stores after workers get “hazard pay”


Kroger-owned grocery chain Quality Food Centers will close two stores in Seattle subsequent month due partly to a brand new regulation requiring “hazard pay” for frontline grocery workers who’ve continued to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Two QFC stores will shut down on April 24, a choice “accelerated by a new Seattle city council mandate that requires certain employers to provide extra pay for some, but not all, city frontline workers,” QFC mentioned Tuesday in a statement

The resolution drew a rebuke from one member of the council, which unanimously authorized the regulation ordering bigger grocery chains to quickly enhance employee pay by $4 an hour. 

“Grocery workers have had to cover emergency shifts, pick up extra responsibilities and are five times more likely to contract COVID,” Teresa Mosqueda, a member of Seattle’s metropolis council, mentioned in an announcement. “These workers should not be pawns in a game of chess,” 

The regulation, which took impact final week, is drawing authorized challenges from the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association. An identical authorized battle is enjoying out in California, the place the California Grocers Association is difficult hazard-pay ordinances in Oakland, Montebello and Long Beach. 

The United Food and Commercial Workers native union known as Kroger’s plan to close the two QFC stores “a transparent attempt to intimidate other local governments from passing ordinances that would provide hazard pay to front line grocery store workers.” 

“Hero Pay” ordinance prompts layoffs


Taking a distinct tack, Trader Joe’s responded to a flurry of ordinances by quickly upping pay by $4 an hour for its workers nationwide however cancelling its conventional midyear raises. Similarly, PCC Community Markets additionally extended the non permanent $4 an hour wage hike to all of its almost 1,500 workers in its 15 places, past the eight Seattle stores impacted by the mandate.

Kroger earlier this month mentioned it might additionally close a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less in Long Beach, California, after town authorized a hazard pay ordinance that the grocery chain known as “misguided.” 

Decision to finish “hero pay”

Kroger final spring ended what it known as “hero pay,” a $2 an hour bonus the company briefly provided to its more than 500,000 workers beginning in April 2020. Instead, the company switched to paying $130 million in bonuses, with full-time workers getting $400 and part-timers receiving $200. 

Kroger has notched report earnings throughout the pandemic as more Americans have opted to keep at house, boosting meals and different grocery gross sales. The company recorded more than $2.9 billion in working earnings by way of the third quarter of 2020, taking in an additional $1.2 billion in earnings in contrast with a year in the past.

Kroger is redirecting a few of that money to buyers, with a $1 billion stock repurchase introduced in September. On February 5, the company introduced a $147 million dividend fee and mentioned it expects to improve its dividend over time.