Just days after announcing it would suspend “hero” payments for front-line employees at its stores, the Kroger supermarket chain announced that it would be issuing additional “thank you” bonuses, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.

The move comes after criticism by the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union that employees still risk their lives by going to work.

The bonus is $ 400 for full-time workers and $ 200 for part-time workers to be paid in two installments on May 30 and June 18, Kroger announced Friday. The payment replaces the additional $ 2 an hour that employees were receiving during the pandemic.

UFCW Local Chapter 75 President Kevin Garvey said the union will continue to pressure the company to provide an increase in pay as the pandemic continues.

“COVID-19 will not disappear soon,” he said. “Our members still have to work under the same conditions and deal with the same pressures. They are worth every penny of the (additional) $ 2.00 and the (last) bonus. “

The Cincinnati-based company did not address the dispute with the union in its announcement. The chain estimates that the new bond will provide $ 130 million to its workers.

“Our partners have been instrumental in feeding the United States and, at the same time, have helped to flatten the curve during the early phases of the pandemic. To recognize and thank our associates for their amazing work during this historic time, we offered a special payment in March, April, and May, “manager Rodney McMullen said in a statement.

Nationally, the UFCW estimates that at least 65 supermarket workers have died in Kroger and other retail stores after contracting the coronavirus.

The UFCW called on Friday for 49 major grocery companies, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco and Sam’s Club, to extend the increased pay for their workers.

In his letter, Perrone challenged company executives to publicly state that they believe the dangers of COVID-19 have passed if they decide to stop the risk payment.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses.