| Cincinnati Enquirer
‘Let’s go Krogering’: Downtown Kroger celebrates grand openingMarty Brennaman, UC marching band and more were on hand for the grand opening of the Downtown Kroger on Sept. 25, 2019.Cara Owsley, firstname.lastname@example.orgKroger said Friday it will pay its employees a one-time $100 payment to get vaccinated for COVID-19.The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain said the payment will be given to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. They must present appropriate proof to their human resources representative, the company said.Kroger said workers who can’t get the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons can also get the extra $100, if they complete an educational health and safety course.”(We) encourage (our associates) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them to optimize their well-being as well as the community’s,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s chief people officer.Separately, Kroger announced an additional $100 bonus in the form of a store credit that will be loaded to employees’ loyalty cards on Thursday, Feb. 11. Workers will also get 1,000 fuel points. The bonus is for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center workers. Last month, Kroger was non-committal about requiring workers to get vaccinated; officials said the company would encourage them do so.As of January, about 600 Kroger associates in its pharmacies and health clinics had been vaccinated, a tiny fraction of the company’s 500,000 employees. . So far Kroger workers in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Texas and West Virginia have gotten the shots – but none yet in Cincinnati.Retail changes: Trader Joe’s increases pandemic pay nationwide, while Kroger announces store closings over hazard pay mandatesMore: Jobs could come back faster than you expect despite pandemic economyThe union representing Kroger’s associates, the United Food & Commercial Workers International, has pressed federal officials to make the vaccine available to its membership as soon as possible. It hasn’t commented on whether vaccination should be mandated for workers.At least 109 union grocery workers have died of COVID-19 and more than 17,400 have been infected, sickened or exposed to the new coronavirus as of December, the UFCW said.Besides Kroger stores, the Cincinnati-based grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others. The company has nearly 2,800 stores. For the latest on Kroger, P&G, Fifth Third Bank and Cincinnati business, follow @alexcoolidge on Twitter.