LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Food 4 Less workers rallied in front of their workplace Wednesday to demand the store's parent company, Kroger, not close its doors over Long Beach's new "hero pay" ordinance.
After Long Beach passed an ordinance giving grocery store workers another $4 per hour on top of their current wages, Kroger announced it would close two of its stores there, a Food 4 Less and a Ralphs. Grocery store workers are pushing back on Kroger's decision, saying the company has made $2.6 billion in profits since the pandemic and invested earnings on stock buybacks.
Workers rallied in front of the Food 4 Less on South Street, carrying signs that said, "Closing is retaliation against workers fighting for hazard pay," and "Corporate greed is the root of all evil." People walking and driving by were heard cheering and honking in support of the workers.
In a statement, Kroger said the employees who work in Long Beach already earn an average of nearly $24 an hour in wages, medical benefits and pension, and that the company has already invested $1.3 billion to reward its workers and implement new safety measures.
"We are truly saddened that our associates and customers will ultimately be the real victims of these forced closures because of the city councils' actions," the company said.
Kroger says the two stores are scheduled to close on April 17.
Grocery store workers were deemed essential workers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, and are particularly vulnerable to falling sick. The Los Angeles City Council also passed a hazard pay ordinance giving grocery store workers an extra $5 per hour.
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