Grocery Chain HEB Giving 15% Of Company’s Shares To 55,000 Employees

While the wage fight roars on at retailers around the country, one company is doing something unusual for the industry: regional grocery chain HEB is bestowing a major perk on about 55,000 of its full-time employees with the gift of an equity stake in the business.

HEB will fork over about 15% of the company’s shares to workers who are at least 21 and have worked at least a year at the chain, with a minimum of 1,000 hours on the clock in a calendar year, reports the New York Times.

The idea is to recognize workers’ contributions to the company and engender loyalty among the workforce, as well as provide financial stability for employees in the long run, Craig Boyan, HEB’s president and chief operating officer told the NYT.

“So many in retail are competing in the race to the bottom, and people are the largest cost. So it seems logical to cut people, and lots of folks are doing it,” Boyan said. “We think that’s a trap. We believe the race for the bottom cheapens the American experience. It’s bad for the country and bad for companies.”

Workers will be able to cash out their stock when they leave or retire, and will also get dividends based on HEB’s earnings, like any other stock. Come January, eligible employees will receive a grant of nonvoting shares valued at 3% of their salary, and $100 in stock for each year of continuous service.

HEB isn’t the first grocery store to hand out stock: Publix Super Markets and WinCo foods are both owned in the majority by employees.

HEB Grocery Chain to Give Stock to 55,000 Employees [New York Times]

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