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Susan Corley, of Huntington, stocks shelves on March 27, 2020, inside Kroger on 7th Avenue in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Kroger is not planning to extend its so-called “hero pay,” a $2-per-hour wage increase, after Saturday, May 16, and the union representing the workers says it’s outraged.

United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, the union representing Kroger store associates, has condemned the company for its plans to cancel the additional pay.

“Our members have risked their lives and the lives of their families to continue coming to work to serve customers through this crisis,” said Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400, in a union news release. “The danger they face every day is still present, and with no vaccine in sight, will continue to be for quite some time. These heroes deserve to be compensated for the service they continue to provide to the community.”

The union is calling on the company to extend the bonus indefinitely until the end of the coronavirus pandemic for all Kroger associates continuing to work.

“Kroger is making more money than ever right now,” Federici said in the release. “While other businesses have shuttered as a result of this pandemic, the grocery industry is booming. Kroger workers achieved a remarkable 30% increase in identical store sales in March, a trend we expect will continue in April and May. Now is not the time to cut wages for heroes on the front lines. These heroes deserve to share in the financial success they have created for Kroger.”

Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic, says the company will evaluate changing conditions and employee needs.

“Our temporary Hero Bonus is scheduled to end in mid-May. In the coming months, we know that our associates’ needs will continue to evolve and change as our country recovers,” McGee said in an email. “Our commitment is that we will continue to listen and be responsive, empowering us to make decisions that advance the needs of our associates, customers, communities and business. We continuously evaluate employee compensation and benefits packages. We are committed to the continued support of our associates’ safety and mental well-being, and we’ll continue our ongoing discussions on these critical aspects with the UFCW.”

The union has launched an online petition at http://www.ufcw400.org/heropay/ and is gathering signatures of Kroger union members in West Virginia and Virginia, as well as stores on the Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee borders.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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