CEO Rodney McMullen reduced COVID-19 hazard pay
workers last year, just months into the pandemic
, then pocketed a record $22.4 million in compensation, according to Bloomberg.
McMullen's pay package was revealed in a regulatory filing on Thursday, and it increased nearly 6% from the previous year, thanks to a larger bonus, a salary increase, and stock awards, according to Bloomberg. It was McMullen's largest pay package since becoming CEO in 2013.
Kroger's median pay fell 8%, to $24,600 per year; however, full-time employees did receive a $300 bonus a year ago. The Cincinnati-based company, the nation's largest supermarket chain, employs approximately 465,000 people
McMullen proudly announced a $2 hourly hazard increase — dubbed a "Hero Bonus" — for store and warehouse workers who continued to work despite the risk of contracting the coronavirus
earlier last year.
However, the bonus was reduced in May 2020, despite the fact that COVID-19 increased, igniting a firestorm of controversy. “The hazard pay is disappearing, but the hazard is not,” Bloomberg noted at the time.
“How do you go from being a hero to being a zero when there is still a pandemic out there?” wondered one worker.
Kroger has closed stores this year instead of complying with city ordinances requiring hazard pay for grocery store employees.
“Kroger continues to reward and recognize our associates for their incredible work during this historic time,” a spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg in an emailed statement in response to the company’s extremely top-heavy reward system, adding that the company is also offering $100 to everyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine
For CEOs and the ultra rich, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been all that bad. Billionaires increased their wealth by 54% last year, amounting to a $4 trillion increase for the world's 2,365 billionaires.
According to a Wall Street Journal analysis published last month, the median pay for CEOs at more than 300 of the country's largest public companies increased to $13.7 million last year, up from $12.8 million the previous year, a nearly 15% increase.
Kroger made a record amount of money
last year as people stopped eating out and increased their grocery shopping, but CEOs of companies that lost money did well as well. For example, despite Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings losing $4 billion last year, CEO Frank Del Rio's pay more than doubled to $36.4 million, according to the Journal.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEOs of 350 large publicly traded companies earned 320 times more than the average worker in the same company in 2019, compared to 61-to-1 in 1989.