How Kroger Responded To The Backlash After Cutting Workers' Pay

After spending the last two months finally giving grocery store workers the recognition they deserved for performing a service that truly is essential, one chain — Kroger — very publicly embarrassed themselves by announcing that they'd be rescinding the $2 per hour "hero pay" that they'd instituted back in March. While Kroger was evidently still aware that the pandemic is far from over, having recently instituted free COVID-19 testing for all of its employees, they seemingly decided that the "big bucks" their workers were allegedly already earning more than compensated for any risk to their health or even their lives and that it was time to focus more on their poor beleaguered stockholders who were in danger of getting heartburn from watching their investments depreciate.

Needless to say, Kroger employees were rather unhappy about their employer's decision, as was the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Nor did the court of public opinion look too favorably upon Kroger's bigwigs after they'd made the move. Kroger didn't exactly walk back their decision in response to such negative feedback, but Today reveals that they did, at least, try to soften the blow to their workers by offering them a "golden parachute" of sorts (well, maybe a stainless steel one).

Kroger's 'thank you' bonus payments

While Kroger isn't re-instituting those $2-per-hour higher wages, Today says that they have allocated $130 million in "Thank You Pay" for their workers. These bonus payments — $200 for part-time associates and $400 for full-time ones — will be paid out in two installments, the first half to come on May 30 and the second half on June 18. Kroger is still continuing to offer paid emergency leave for any employees contracting the COVID-19 virus as well as offering protective gear and the aforementioned free testing.

While this lump sum bonus payment doesn't go quite as far as higher wages would toward rehabilitating Kroger's image at this time, as it turns out, the grocery giant isn't the only company returning to its Scroogelike ways as things slowly start getting back to what's meant to be business as usual. Walmart, Target, Starbucks, and Amazon have all announced that they will be returning to pre-pandemic pay levels by the end of the month, despite the fact that their workers are still very much at risk of infection. There's been no word yet as to any bonuses the first three companies may be offering their employees, but disgruntled Amazon workers told Business Insider that for continuing to work through the pandemic, all they got in thanks was a lousy T-shirt.