While, Kroger have been in news, as few months back, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach City Council set out to put in $4 an hour to increase the champion’s wages to essential grocery workers.
The citywide requirement meant that companies employing more than 300 grocery workers nationwide, and more than fifteen 15 employees per grocery store in Long Beach, must provide an additional $ 4 per hour, per employee, at a “premium pay.” For the next four months. After the city ordinance passed around January 19, two North Long Beach grocery stores announced that they would be closing: Ralphs in Los Coyotes and Diagonal, and Food 4 Less on South Street near Cherry Avenue.
A spokesperson for Kroger – the largest grocery chain in the world and owner of both Ralphs and Food 4 Less – blamed Mayor Garcia and City Council, saying that “despite our efforts to overcome the financial challenges we were already facing in these locations, the extra pay is Imposed by Long Beach City Council makes it impossible to run a financially sustainable business that can deliver fresh groceries at reasonable prices, create jobs with potential for growth and support community organizations. ”
Is the temporary increase in champion’s pay really only responsible for the double shutters, or is Kroger using the law as a scapegoat for planned closings in a crowded market – all while keeping workers’ salaries at some of the lowest levels in their industry? In October, a Harvard University study concluded that grocery store workers face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than traveling by plane. Kroger offers two weeks of paid sick leave if any employee tests positive for the virus.
Others, such as the California Grocery Association, have filed a lawsuit against the cities of Oakland, Montebello and Long Beach in federal court for imposing wage increases. The CGA claims, in part, that these wage increases, however temporary, will now raise food prices across the state. Long Beach Fifth District representative, Stacy Mongo, describes the grocery giant’s use of the Champion Pay program to fully justify the shutdown, noting that Kroger had threatened to close those same stores multiple times over the years, long before the pandemic began – and even employment at the grocery store had grown exponentially Steady since last spring. “While I am disappointed to hear that Ralphs is closing Los Coyotes Diagonal, this has been flagged every few months for years,” says Mongo. “They made a similar announcement when opening a grocery store in Spring Street, and it is not surprising that they made this one as Amazon Fresh is slated to open in early 2021 two blocks away.”
In fact, both grocery stores (described by Kroger reps as “underperforming”) are located in a very competitive area. The Ralphs at Los Coyotes features suites, and the Stater Bros., Grocery Outlet, and Amazon Fresh soon are less than a mile away. South Street Food 4 Less has two adjacent supermarket stores within walking distance, plus a one-mile distance between this location and the mega supermarket Superior Grocers and WinCo Foods. There is even 4 other food nearby.
Now, Kroger’s rationale for the shutdowns. “I am sad to see it go because it’s so comfortable,” he says, “I think the store is greedy, and I don’t want to temporarily pay the workers anymore.” Fury sees crowded, unoccupied lines off the shelves whenever he’s shopping at his local Ralphs now, he says, and he doesn’t think the company is struggling financially. “I find it hard to believe. It’s always very busy.”
Kroger is a huge company, after reporting $ 819 million in revenue last year with sales of $ 30.5 billion, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which means its profits have nearly tripled. The Brookings Institution published its own Kroger-focused findings in November 2020, showing “$ 211 million in second-quarter stock buybacks” of 2020, along with a “new September $ 1 billion stock buyback program”, leading to Stock prices rise. “Meanwhile, the company’s frontline grocery workers have spent 181 days without a risk pay, and they will enter this new, deadliest phase of the epidemic to earn some of the lowest wages in the industry.”
Still others believe the upcoming lockdowns, scheduled for this spring, are in part a punitive effort against workers who have pushed for better wages during the pandemic. Now, what is your take on this? Do think is closing the store is wise thing to do? Do think is Kroger facing finical issues? Let us know in the comment section below!