Social media is fuming over Kroger apparently asking employees to repay some of their "Hero Pay" earned during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Dissent Magazine published a report on Kroger employees being informed that they had been overpaid by mistake in the last three months. The situation has many people upset with the grocery chain.
Kroger paid employees an extra $2 per hour throughout the early part of the coronavirus outbreak, as a kind of unofficial hazard pay for the risk. The company came under scrutiny this month for ending "Hero Pay," despite the fact that the pandemic is ongoing, with no end in sight anytime soon. On top of that, employees have now begun sharing letters from the company, where they say they are told they were overpaid recently and must repay the company. Dissent reporter Sarah Jaffe spoke to an employee as well as union representatives about the situation.
Kroger asking workers to return some of the extra pay they received pic.twitter.com/WPtAsYRAOb— steele (@laborseller) May 18, 2020
UFCW Local 400, a labor union representing 13,000 Kroger employees, has advised them not to sign anything about the repayment plans until it has a chance to thoroughly examine each claim. The letter circulating on Twitter claims that one employee was overpaid by $461.60, and many people online have stated that payroll mistakes like this are rare, and for many to occur all at once seems suspicious to some.
Even if the employees were legitimately overpaid, however, some argue that Kroger should still not be asking for that money back. At a time of economic turmoil, many have likely already spent the excess money, and now they are facing up to five weeks of lightened paychecks if they agree to repay their employer. Veronica Copeland, an employee who spoke to Dissent, pointed out the company seems to be making more money than ever, so it feels greedy for it to ask her to repay a few hundred dollars.
"They are making money hand over fist," she said. "Before all this started, two weeks before I went off, we had our first million-dollar week ever. A million-dollar week in our little tiny store, and we've hit it now a few times. They are definitely making a lot of money. The grocery stores have the monopoly on everything. I just don’t know what they’re thinking in the middle of all of this demanding repayment."
Still, some online are defending Kroger, saying that the employees should have done the math on their own paychecks and realized they were overpaid. Kroger itself has not officially responded to the controversy yet. Here is a look at how Twitter is reacting to Kroger's apparent repayment letters.
I laughed when saw that nonsense. @kroger is garbage. They try to make ppl work while sick. Rig it so impossible to qualify for insurance plan. Saying at my store was “Yeah, they don’t give a sh#t about us.” Heard this over & over from coworkers. Hero stuff nothing but PR.🤬🤬🤬— JC (@JSCearbhaill) May 19, 2020
I remember working there when Kroger's Christmas bonus was a $5 in-store coupon.— JohnQFugly (@GallopingMetal) May 19, 2020
or could be they overpaid someone.. it is not saying worker wasnt entitled to any emergency pay.— Rev. Marie (@GaryMillrat) May 19, 2020
Yet another example of American business showing their true colors in times of crisis.— Zig Soper (@SirZigmont) May 19, 2020
That’s where I have shopped. Never again.— Karen King (@karenjk17) May 19, 2020
First comes press releases about “hero pay” and while we’re all busy shopping at Kroeger they quietly claw it back. Disclaimer: I don’t actually shop at a Kroeger but now for sure I won’t.— Linda Gillis Gentile (@kwajalinda) May 19, 2020
Asks is the wrong word. That is a demand with threats. WTF @kroger? That is unconscionable and you don't need a few measily bucks from hard pressed and hard working employees. Stop it. Now.— J. R. Tomlin (@JRTomlinAuthor) May 19, 2020
Except this is emergency pay during a pandemic. That should NOT be able to be taken back from a low-wage worker who needs it to pay bills to a multi-million dollar corporation to pay higher-ups who already make six figures. This is unethical and I'm questioning its legality.— KTuck 🌹 (@TUCKERed_out_22) May 19, 2020
Can't swear to it specifically, but given that the letter came from Kroger and not one of the sister stores, pretty sure there are no Kroger's outside my geographic region (Ohio area).— The Crows of Corvidia (@Shironen2011) May 19, 2020
omg i saw this - haven’t gotten anything but im pic.twitter.com/9u63rUyH83— kailee 🍯🍂🌞 (@kaileerenee99) May 19, 2020