Kroger addresses distribution center backup due to coronavirus concerns

Updated: Mar. 30, 2020 at 3:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The impact from the demand at grocery stores is being felt on distribution workers and truck drivers. Some truck drivers said they waited for days to unload their shipments at Memphis’ Kroger Distribution Center.

Kroger officials said early morning lines of trucks outside the Southeast Memphis Distribution Center aren’t unusual.

“You will see trucks lined up here especially in this early morning hour just because they are waiting to get inbound to drop off their product,” Kroger Delta Division Corporate Affairs Manager Teresa Dickerson said. “As soon as they drop it off it’s getting sent right back out to the stores.”

This weekend truck drivers said the lines and wait times to drop off their shipments were extraordinary. Some said they waited for days. Many said it’s costing them money.

“The ripple effect of this is quite far-reaching,” one truck driver form Cincinnati said. “The load I was supposed to pick up I can’t. That was a $1,500 load.”

“I was thinking about leaving, but I’m afraid someone will take my spot,” another truck driver told us Saturday.

Truck drivers told WMC Action News 5 they believe the delays came when crews had to deep clean the facility after a worker tested positive for COVID-19 last week. An employee also told us some workers had walked off the job because they felt unsafe and uncompensated.

Dickerson said there have been delays for truck drivers, but it’s because there is so much more product being unloaded at the center.

“We are working to stock our stores,” Dickerson said. “We service 101 stores in our Delta Division. As you can imagine, the demand is high in our stores. So, receiving that much product in just a couple of days it was just a little bit overwhelming.”

Dickerson cannot comment on if employees walked out or if they did the reasons behind it because most employees are represented by a union. She said Kroger is giving them appreciation pay for the extra work they’ve been doing.

“They receive that pay Friday,” Dickerson said. “It’s $300 for full-time workers. They’re receiving that pay to just say thank you for everything you’re doing.”

We reached out to Teamsters Local 667 which represents workers at Kroger’s Distribution Center to be a part of this story, but have not heard back.

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.