Cincinnati, Ohio Kroger, the nation's largest grocery retailer by revenue, has hired over 100,000 people since the president declared a national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak. This brings their workforce to 560,000 - an increase of 25%. Their average daily hiring volume was just shy of 1,800.
Kroger faces pressure from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. The grocery chain announces a "hero bonus" of an additional $2 per hour for all frontline grocery, pharmacy, call center, supply chain, and manufacturing staff. Initially intended to run from 3/29-4/18, it was extended to 5/17. The union is calling for the bonus to last beyond 5/17. They have launched a hashtag #essentialheroes as a part of this pressure campaign.
In addition, the union is raising questions about executive compensation, as well as continued risks beyond 5/17. In a statement they note: "Statements by 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... The suggestions of social distancing, one shopper per househould, having every other check lane open, and customer limits are not being enforced."
Presidents of Local Unions in KY, OH, MI, and IN have sent a joint letter in solidarity to Kroger Company CEO Rodney McMullen asking him to extend the Hero Pay to our members through the Month of May.— UFCW Local 75 (@UFCW75) May 6, 2020
Full letter here ➡️ https://t.co/bjrFAgtrk9 pic.twitter.com/aTb1HpfUHP
The company has taken steps to expedite the hiring process
Even with the addition of 100,000-plus workers, Kroger said open jobs remain nationwide in the company’s stores, online business, manufacturing plants and distribution centers. In early March, the retailer expedited hiring by shortening the time between application and employment, onboarding hires in an average of 72 hours. A new focus on tasks versus role-based development, too, enabled new hires to acclimate to their role and expectations more quickly, the retailer said.
In March, similar to other large employers faced with hiring surges, Kroger formed employment partnerships with local, regional and national businesses to create a shared-resource model that temporarily flexes employees to Kroger roles, ensuring the food supply chain continues without disruption. Current partners include Frisch’s, Marriott International, McLane Foodservice, Shamrock Foods, Sodexo, SodexoMAGIC, Sysco, Thunderdome Restaurant Group, US Foods, Waffle House and more.
“During these uncertain times, we’re humbled to be able to provide new career opportunities to workers in the industries most affected by this pandemic,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief people officer. “Through our expedited hiring and onboarding process and cross-sector partnerships, we’ve welcomed more than 100,000 new associates to the Kroger Family of Companies in roles across our retail stores, ecommerce business, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers.”
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