Kroger grocery store chain announced it was shutting down five stores in Southern California after cities approved ordinances requiring retailers to pay a “hero pay.”   

Kroger closed two stores in Long Beach on Saturday, one a Ralphs and the other a Food 4 Less.  Kroger, which is the largest supermarket chain in the U.S. with nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states, stated that the city-mandated $4 per hour “hero pay” increase was to blame for the store closings.

“As a result of the City of Long Beach’s decision to pass an ordinance mandating Extra Pay for grocery workers, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close long-struggling store locations in Long Beach,” said a spokesperson for Kroger several weeks ago, the Epoch Times reported.  “This misguided action by the Long Beach City Council oversteps the traditional bargain-ing process and applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city.”

Democratic Mayor Robert Garcia and the Long Beach City Council, in January, approved a “hero Pay” ordinance that increased wages by $4 per hour.  The COVID-19 pandemic-related pay increase included employees of pharmacies and retail stores with 300 or more employees in the southern California city.  The California Grocers Association (CGA) attempted to stop the pay increase but was denied by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II, after he concluded “CGA utterly fails to address why the ordinance is not an appropriate means for fairly compensating grocery workers for the hazards they encounter as essential workers.” 

Union leaders claimed that Kroger is punishing workers and the communities.  The closures will impact an estimated 200 workers, according to KTTV-TV.  Kroger said that employees of the doomed stores were given the chance to transfer to other locations.  The grocery store workers union claims that the transfers could mean long and expensive commutes. 

Also, last month, the Los Angeles City Council approved an emergency ordinance to require grocery stores, retailers, and pharmacies with more than 300 employees nationwide, or more than 10 employees on-site, to offer employees an additional $5 per hour hazard pay during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kroger reacted by planning to close three Los Angeles locations on May 12, citing “hero pay” as the main factor for closing.

“The mandate will add an additional $20 million in operating costs over the next 120 days, making it financially unsustainable to continue operating the three underperforming locations,” Kroger said in a statement.  “Despite our efforts to overcome the challenges we were already facing at these locations, the extra pay mandate makes it impossible to run a financially sustainable business that ensures our ability to continue serving the Los Angeles community at those three locations with reliable access to affordable, fresh groceries and other essentials.
“We are proud of our role as a leading employer in Los Angeles and remain committed to our dedicated associates on the front-lines serving in our 65 other locations,” the supermarket chain said.  

Two Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion to investigate Kroger for closing the three Los Angeles stores.  “The city has an interest in considering whether it should take legislative action to address these closures and potentially future closures of other grocery stores, especially in areas of the city that are commonly known as Food Deserts,” the motion introduced by Democratic Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Paul Koretz said.
Evidently, these democratic councilmen have forgotten this is America, even if it is California.  How can they pass an ordinance or tell any grocery chain when and where they can have a store, when they can close down a facility, not to mention how much they have to pay their employees?

This should be a good reminder that every citizen needs to do their research and get out and vote for people that want to help their cities, not just feed power hungry politicians.

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Robin L. Generaux
Robin L. Generaux
1 year ago

The very definition of “hero” is so diluted now that it means absolutely nothing.Folks who work in grocery stores are not in danger of Covid any more than the rest of the population. All of the measures put in place insure that they are safe or at least were safe. Now, the employees have the extra burden of either finding new work or traveling long distances. Locals no longer have their grocery stores. Landlords no longer receive the money from an anchor store and soon enough the shopping center will completely fail. Kroger was right to give these heavy handed… Read more »