Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Kroger Wants Its Half-Million Employees Designated First Responders So They Can Get Masks and Gloves

By Rhian Hunt – Apr 14, 2020 at 6:14PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The retail chain and a major union both want first responder status for grocery workers.

Attempting to help its 460,000 supermarket and drugstore personnel get personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 outbreak, The Kroger Co. (KR 2.64%) asked both federal and state governments today to declare its workers temporary emergency personnel. An official designation as "extended first responders" would give them high-priority access to surgical masks, protective gloves, and other gear to help prevent coronavirus infection.

Workers at supermarkets and pharmacies stand at the front line of those who are supplying essentials such as food and healthcare supplies to Americans during the pandemic. The job necessarily involves a high level of exposure to the general public and potential infection. The hazards are starkly illustrated by the announcement of the deaths of four Kroger employees today in Michigan, the state currently with the most COVID-19 cases after New York.

A man in a grocery store wearing a protective face mask.

Image source: Getty Images.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, issued a joint statement together with Kroger. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen and UFCW President Marc Perrone said the designation of the workers as first responders was "absolutely critical" to protect the employees, people shopping for necessities, and the national food supply itself.

The UFCW and Kroger previously worked together to develop a plan to give the latter's employees a temporary $2 per hour pay boost, emergency paid leave, shorter store hours, and expanded cleaning and sanitation measures starting on April 1. Kroger has also started drive-through coronavirus testing in Kentucky

McMullen and Perrone stressed the grocery sector's vital role, especially during the pandemic, by stating, "As all Americans are now witnessing -- grocery workers play a critical role in our communities and they must be protected."

Rhian Hunt has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

The Kroger Co. Stock Quote
The Kroger Co.
KR
$45.46 (2.64%) $1.17

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
327%
 
S&P 500 Returns
105%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/28/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.