Kroger announces “Thank You Pay” for frontline hourly workers

WATCH: Kroger announces Thank You Pay for frontline hourly workers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kroger announced it’s giving $130 million in “Thank You Pay” to frontline hourly workers. This follows several hero bonuses paid April through mid-May.

FOX13 spoke with an employee who has been with the company for more than 30 years. Even though he is putting his health at risk every day, he said it’s a job he is not taking for granted.

Bill Canaday carefully wipes down every grocery cart for his customers with grace, compassion, and a smile during some of the most challenging times this country has ever faced.

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“Everybody is really concerned about the atmosphere going on, and when they see you doing these things, and they see that everything is sanitized and ready to go, the store is clean the lobby is clean, they take that as a positive,” he said.

Canaday, who works at the Germantown location, is one of many Kroger frontline workers across the country about to get thank you pay.

It’s $400 for qualified full-time associates and $200 for part-time employees.

“I know the whole saying people have got to eat, but we have been lucky to be here,” said Canaday.

Customers depend on grocery stores for food and cleaning supplies more than ever.

That’s why union officials said they want additional pay for Kroger employees to last throughout the crisis.

Kroger released a statement saying in the coming months, it knows that associates’ needs will continue to evolve. Kroger will continue to make decisions that prioritize associates’ health and well-being.

In the meantime, Canaday said everything they’re doing during this pandemic to keep customers safe is worth it.

“They have been very appreciative of us, and it makes you feel good to know that first of all you’re doing your job,” he said.

The one-time thank you pay comes in two installments on May 30th and June 18th.

Kroger sent FOX13 the following statement:

Our top priority throughout this pandemic has been the safety and health of our associates and customers. In addition to investing more than $700 million to reward our associates and safeguard associates, customers and our communities, on May 15 we announced a special Thank You Pay for hourly frontline associates— $400 for qualified full-time associates and $200 for qualified part-time associates, totaling an additional $130 million—to acknowledge their dedication to maintaining safe, clean and stocked stores.

The new Thank You Pay bookends an Appreciation Pay first provided to frontline associates for their efforts at the start of the pandemic in March. It also follows multiple Hero Bonuses that were paid in April through mid-May, with associates receiving their final payment by May 23.

Since 2017, Kroger has increased its average rate to over $15 per hour. We also provide our associates with health care and retirement benefits that many of our competitors do not offer their employees. This was true prior to the pandemic and remains true today. Kroger also provides retirement benefits in the form of pension investments for many of our frontline associates, which fewer than 9% of U.S. companies provide. With health care and retirement benefits factored in, Kroger's average hourly rate grows from $15 to well over $20.

In addition to these investments, we have recently provided new career opportunities to more than 100,000 workers nationwide, including those from the hardest-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels and food service distributors, to support our retail, ecommerce, manufacturing and logistics operations.

In the coming months, we know that our associates’ needs will continue to evolve and change as our country recovers. Rest assured that we will continue to make decisions that prioritize our associates’ health and well-being and recognize their work.

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