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After Kroger ended hazard increase for workers, its CEO received $22.4 million

Last year, at the same time critics panned Kroger for ending its $2 hourly hazard increase for workers, CEO Rodney McMullen received his largest pay package ever — $22.4 million — thanks to a larger bonus, more stock awards, and a salary increase, Bloomberg reports.

The amount of McMullen's pay package was disclosed Thursday in a regulatory filing. During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Kroger gave store and warehouse workers the $2 hazard pay increase, dubbed the Hero Bonus. The bonus ended after just two months, even as the pandemic raged on.

McMullen has been the CEO of Kroger since 2014, and his 2020 pay package was almost 6 percent higher than the one he received in 2019. Meanwhile, the pay for Kroger's median employee dropped 8 percent to $24,617, Bloomberg reports. Kroger has 465,000 employees and about 2,740 stores.

Grocery store workers have been heralded throughout the pandemic as essential workers, and the industry got a boost over the last year as customers bought more food to eat at home and stockpiled household goods. In March, Kroger said it planned on bringing the average hourly wage up from $15.50 per hour to $16, and in April, it gave full-time workers a $300 bonus and part-time workers $150.

"Kroger continues to reward and recognize our associates for their incredible work during this historic time," a Kroger spokesperson told Bloomberg in a statement.