Kroger employees petition for transfer of Portsmouth woman who suffered stroke during long commute

Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 17:15:45-04

Portsmouth, Va. - Hundreds of Kroger employees signed a petition demanding the transfer of a worker who has to travel two hours to a store to go to work, even though there is a Kroger location minutes from her home.

“I`m just a loyal employee and this is how  I’m treated,” Kroger employee Felecia Mayes said. “I  took three buses and a light rail to get there on time every day. The commute was just awful."

Felecia Mayes has worked as a Kroger cashier for 18 years.

Last year, the Portsmouth store where she worked closed.

According to a statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, when Felecia applied for a transfer to a new Kroger Marketplace close by, the company denied the transfer and instead gave her two choices – commute to a store two hours away from home or lose her job.

She was also given the option of transferring to the non-union store close to home, where she'd lose benefits she'd earned.

“I  wasn`t gonna give up my benefits and everything, so I  made the commute to Virginia Beach,” Mayes said.

“We`d just like Felecia to, when she`s ready, to be able to get back to work and really the only way`s she gonna be able to do that is if she can work at a store close to home,” protestor and union rep Mike Wilson explained.

Mayes recently had a stroke during her two hour commute. The union said her doctor attributed the stroke to the stress and physical difficulty of her new commute.

Mayes says she will continue the commute if she can't transfer.

Kroger sent us the following statement on Mayes' situation:

Felicia Mayes is a long-serving full-time cashier at our company and we value her commitment to our customers. We sympathize with her recent health complications.

When we closed the store where she was working, we provided her the opportunity to work at one of our other stores where full-time cashier positions were available. 

Once Ms. Mayes is able to come back to work, we will see if we can find a store and an available position closer to her home.

UFCW 400 has been attempting to organize a union here at our store since we opened in 2014. 

-Lindsay Grant, APR

NewsChannel 3 covered the closing of the store where Mayes worked. The store was a union store and workers who wanted to remain employed by Kroger had to transfer to another union store. There are not any union Kroger stores in Portsmouth so the employees had to take jobs in Virginia Beach, Norfolk or Yorktown.

Read more here:

High Street Kroger employees protest store closure

Quit or Commute? Portsmouth Kroger employees face difficult decision as store closes