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Long Beach Ralphs, Food 4 Smaller stores to be closed permanently this weekend amid controversy over ‘hero pay’

Two Kroger grocery stores in Long Beach are ready to close this weekend due to the chain’s opposition to the city’s announcement that an additional $ 4 per hour is required at the risk of grocery workers.

The chain announced in February that it would close Ralphs at 3380 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal and Food 4 Less at 2185 E. South St. Saturday, April 17th.

The decision came weeks after Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia signed the ordinance, which put wage increases in place for at least 120 days in stores with at least 300 employees nationwide or more than 15 employees per year. Market in the city.

A further three Kroger grocery stores in the Los Angeles area, two Ralphs and a Food 4 Less, are closed in mid-May:

  • Ralphs: 961
    6 West Pico Blvd., and Pico-Robertson
  • Ralphs: 3300 West Slauson Ave., in Hyde Park
  • Food 4 less – 5420 West Sunset Blvd., in East Hollywood

The so-called “hero pay” measures are intended to compensate frontline workers for the increased health risk they face during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Kroger says the pay rise made it impossible to keep the stores open. At Ralphs on Los Coyotes Diagonal on Friday, a “close-out sale” of 25% or more was announced, and only a few things were left on store shelves.

“The irreparable damage that employees and local citizens will suffer as a direct result of City of Long Beach’s attempts to select winners and losers is deeply unfortunate,” the company said in a statement. “We are really sad that our employees and customers are ultimately the real victims of the city council’s actions.”

But a union representing 20,000 workers – including those employed in grocery stores – along the coast of central and southern California says the closures are a blatant attack on key grocery workers who risk their lives to maintain community access to food.

UFCW Local 770 says its employees will potentially strike and call for a boycott of Food 4 Less if the company does not accept its offer to replace the last deal that expired in March.

“Food 4 Less can afford to treat us fairly, but so far they are refusing to do so,” Susan Hernandez, who works at Food 4 Less in North Hollywood, said in a statement from the union. “The company treats us workers and the communities we serve as second-class citizens, and we need to change that.”

Long Beach resident Rick Loveall said he has been shopping at Long Beach Ralphs, which has been closed for 45 years.

“And then Kroger goes and says they can’t afford $ 4? Come now, ”he told KTLA outside the store on Friday.

But Bill Burns, who has also been in the store for decades, said it was the wrong time to try to introduce a pay rise.

“They have a business to run. Big or small, it is not time to negotiate wages, ”he said.

Kroger had issued a $ 2 pay raise at the start of the pandemic and has said they spent approx. $ 1.3 billion in rewarding employees and implementing dozens of coronavirus-related security measures. But like most companies, Kroger ended wage increases in June.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati-based Krogers’ profits rose 5.6% during 2020, reaching $ 2.6 billion, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

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