Kroger, the grocery chain that owns QFC and Fred Meyer, said Friday it will offer employees a one-time $100 payment after they receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Employees who cannot get the vaccine for medical or religious reasons can take an "educational health and safety course" to get the bonus, the company said.
The payment is meant to encourage workers to get vaccinated and "recognize our associates' contributions," Kroger executive Tim Massa said in a statement Friday.
The federal government says employers can mandate the vaccine, though for now most local companies say they are not yet planning to require it.
Kroger workers who "receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine" will be eligible for the $100, the company said.
The national union that represents Kroger workers, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), called the payment a "slap in the face," however, pointing out that the company announced this week it would close two stores in Southern California in response to a local mandate to raise pay by $4 an hour during the pandemic. Seattle passed a similar $4 requirement.
"If Kroger really cares about its employees, the company must share the profits the pandemic has generated with all of its frontline grocery workers across the country," UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement, calling for free vaccines for employees.
Separate from the vaccine payment, Kroger said Friday it would also provide "a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points" for workers, including front-line grocery and pharmacy employees, starting Feb. 11.
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