Sherman Jenne, a cashier at the Fred Meyer grocery store in Burien, Washington, takes part in a protest outside the store against Fred Meyer's parent company Kroger on Friday, May 15, 2020.
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Sherman Jenne, a cashier at the Fred Meyer grocery store in Burien, Washington, takes part in a protest outside the store against Fred Meyer's parent company Kroger on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Kroger has announced they will give full and part-time employees a $400 bonus following criticism from the country's largest grocery union.  The move comes after the chain ended their "hero pay" bonus program.

The previous bonus provided Kroger employees a $2 premium above standard base rate of pay, applied to hours worked March 29 through April 18 – for all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates.

Grocery stores and their employees are considered "essential" by the state and have been allowed to stay open.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union have estimated that 65 grocery workers have died since the onset of the pandemic and at least 9,810 workers have been infected.

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UFCW President Marc Perrone said the move to cut the bonus is inexplicable since Kroger is currently experiencing record profits.

"The reality is that Kroger is choosing to ignore this pandemic," he said. "This is not how we treat heroes in America."

The UFCW also called on the CEOs of 49 top supermarket chains to immediately guarantee hazard pay for all grocery workers.

Kroger is calling the new bonus program "Thank You Pay." The company said it will pay out in two $200 installments between May 30 and June 18.

"As the country moves toward reopening, we will continue to safeguard our associates' health and well-being and recognize their work," Kroger CEO Rodney McMullin said in a statement. "At the same time, we will continue running a sustainable business that provides steady employment and opportunities to learn and grow for over half a million associates."