- Albertsons has stopped paying its frontline workers the additional $2 per hour in pandemic-related compensation they have been receiving since mid-March, according to a statement the supermarket chain emailed to Grocery Dive. The “appreciation pay” program, which went into effect March 15, ended June 13.
- The grocer, which runs banners including Acme, Albertsons, Safeway and Vons, said it will distribute a “reward payment” equal to $4 per hour to employees for the average number of hours they worked per week between March 15 and June 13. Associates will receive credit for a minimum average of 15 hours of work per week when the amount of their payment is calculated.
- The decision by Albertsons to stop providing workers with extra hourly pay drew criticism from labor officials, who demanded that the company reverse itself. “Taking away these essential heroes’ hourly bonus of $2 an hour shows a complete disregard for the dangers these workers face every day just to do their jobs,” Kim Cordova, president Local 7 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which represents more than 21,000 grocery workers in Colorado and Wyoming, said in a statement.
Albertsons’ decision to discontinue hourly bonus pay puts it in the company of other major grocery chains that have elected to drop the practice or are preparing to do so in spite of criticism.
In May, Kroger ended its $2-per-hour “hero pay” program in the face of a torrent of criticism from labor leaders and members of Congress, who called the company’s move “a slap in the face to everyone who has enabled your doors to remain open.” Kroger said it would soften the blow to workers with a one-time bonus of $400 for full-time employees and $200 for part-time associates.
Target will stop its $2-per-hour temporary pay increase on July 4, the same day as Stop & Shop is planning to end a 10% wage boost it has been providing associates. Both chains extended their extra-pay programs twice since establishing them in March, when grocers lined up to publicly announce that they would give workers additional compensation in recognition of their work as the country hunkered down.
H-E-B said in May that it would extend the extra $2 per hour in pay it has been giving its workers through June 21, following an announcement in April that the program would last through May 24.
Albertsons also acted to end its “appreciation pay program” after previously extending it. In its statement, Albertsons gave a nod to the efforts its employees made “to serve their neighbors at an extreme time of need,” but suggested that the time had come to end the additional pay as jurisdictions and businesses relax restrictions that were instituted to slow the spread of the virus.
Grocers are taking other steps to normalize their businesses in addition to moving away from giving employees extra pay. Some, including H-E-B and Giant Food, have increased hours of operations. Others, such as The Giant Company, have started backing away from restrictions like requiring shoppers to move through stores in a single direction, according to media reports.