Kroger to close Ralph's and Food 4 Less stores in Long Beach after city asks them to pay workers $4 as 'hero pay'

The extra $4 have to paid as 'hero pay' to all employees because of the risk they took while working during Covid-19 pandemic


                            Kroger to close Ralph's and Food 4 Less stores in Long Beach after city asks them to pay workers $4 as 'hero pay'
Food 4 Less is a grocery chain owned by Kroger (Getty Images)

Retailer Kroger announced on Monday, February 1, that they will permanently close down two of their stores in Long Beach, California. The reason behind the closure is reportedly the city’s mandate that businesses have to pay an extra $4 as “Hero Pay” to its employees. On Tuesday, February 2, a spokesperson for Kroger told FOX Business that Long Beach City Council's "misguided action" while issuing the order that made extra payment compulsory had violated "the traditional bargaining process" and "only applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city."

The spokesperson continued, “The irreparable harm that will come to employees and local citizens is a direct result of the City of Long Beach’s attempt to pick winners and losers, is deeply unfortunate. We are truly saddened that our associates and customers will ultimately be the real victims of the city council’s actions." While in a text to the Long Beach Post News, Kroger Ralphs Division spokesman John Votava said, “As always, we will do everything we can to take care of our associates. We may not be able to take care of every individual and it may result in layoffs.”

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Reports said that the shutters of the Ralphs store situated at 3380 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal and Food 4 Less store at 2185 E. South Street will be closed on April 17, 2021. The shutdown of the two stores came after in January, the Long Beach City Council, backed by Democratic Mayor Robert Garcia, approved the "hero pay" law. The order is for every company that has 300 or over staff members across the country and over 15 workers in each store in Long Beach. The extra payment will be given for at least 120 days.

Shoppers are seen in the check-out line with their purchases at a Food 4 Less store (Getty Images)

After Kroger’s shutting down announcement, the city admitted that the new ordinance might result in layoffs, but added that the city’s Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network would help anyone who is fired with unemployment benefits and other services. While passing the mandate, the City Council noted that though other businesses suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, supermarkets actually saw more customers.

The workers at these stores worked continuously despite being at risk. “Grocery workers working during the Covid-19 emergency merit additional compensation because they are performing hazardous duty due to the significant risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus. They are working in these hazardous conditions now and will continue to face safety risks as the virus presents an ongoing threat for an uncertain period, potentially resulting in subsequent waves of infection,” the ordinance stated.

(Getty Images)

On Tuesday, February 2, Garcia tweeted, “When large corporations make record profits and double their earnings — they need to share that success with those providing the labor. Period.” The mayor also showed his support to the grocery workers by tweeting, “Proud to stand with the hardworking grocery store workers who are at risk of being fired because the Kroger corporation would rather not pay them an additional few dollars an hour during the pandemic. Supermarkets are making record profits.”



 



 

The closedown of two Kroger stores has attracted a lot of attention on the internet also. One person tweeted, “They’d rather close than pay workers a livable wage. Stop giving Kroger’s your money.” Another user said, “@KrogerNews @kroger is just one of the names of supermarkets Kroger owns. Here is a complete list. If not paying front-line workers a local government-approved pay raise bothers you, please consider doing your grocery shopping somewhere else.” “In MKE thank goodness I have a vehicle and we are lucky enough to have several different grocery chains to choose from. How many from this neighborhood can say the same? #Kroger you have let us all down big time. We are watching,” the third added.



 



 



 

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