Some of the country’s most profitable companies, such as Kroger and Amazon, are ramping up their brutal tactics against workers. With cash flowing in, they are more confident than ever – and do whatever they want.
Last week, Kroger, the supermarket giant, announced that it would shut down two of its grocery stores in Long Beach, California. After the city council decreed that grocery stores would pay their workers an additional $ 4 an hour for a period of 120 days or until the city ends the measure.
Kroger ended its $ 2 an hour risk compensation policy in May of 2020, preferring to give workers an occasional bonus in the months that followed, a strategy also adopted by Amazon and Walmart. There have been no moves to re-implement the increases, even with the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW), which represents around 1.3 million grocery store workers, saying 134 members have died from the coronavirus, with thousands infected.
The Long Beach measure, which was passed unanimously on January 19, 2021, is a way to secure additional wages for frontline workers who risk exposure to the Coronavirus as the pandemic continues across the United States. This applies to grocery stores with more than 300 employees nationwide and over fifteen per store in the city. It’s not the only decree: Seattle, Los Angeles and Montebello have passed similar laws.
In addition, Kroger’s spokesperson said a Kroger spokesperson for National Public Radio (NPR). “As a result of Long Beach’s decision to issue a decree imposing an extra pay for grocers, we’ve made the tough decision to permanently close the long-struggling store locations in Long Beach,”. “We are really sad that in the end our partners and customers will be the true victims of the City Council’s actions.” The company, which has thousands of stores across the country, says two stores in affected Long Beach will close in April.
This episode is the latest example of capital in the rally, as companies that have made big profits during the pandemic are more confident than ever, and ready to do exactly what they like. Amazon, which may be the biggest winner of the pandemic, is doing the same. The company recently announced plans to shut down DCH1, one of its warehouses in Chicago. Workers were told on January 25 that they could either find a new job or accept cemetery shifts at a new warehouse in the city. Shifts from 1:20 am to 11:50 am are known as the “mega cycle,” and as DCH1 workers quickly pointed out, they are not applicable for people taking care of children or the elderly.
What makes this particularly intriguing is that DCH1 is one of the most organized Amazon repositories in the country. Its workers have organized long strikes, petitions, and other collective actions. It is difficult to avoid speculating on whether the company is shutting down such a well-regulated facility as part of its current efforts to crack down on worker regulation, but it is safe to say that the “take it or leave it” attitude toward workers who have struggled through the pandemic and have not received a risk allowance for several months, this reflects a company doing what it wants, regardless of the human costs.
Kroger, like Amazon, doesn’t want to be subject to any restrictions as to how it monetizes. The idea of responding to anyone, be it a worker or a city council, is anathema to these companies. As Peter Fries once said, “Just as workers can stop production by refusing to come to work, capital can wipe out the economy by refusing to invest and employ workers.” The threat from capital strike limits the actions of policymakers and workers’ demands on the shop floor.
While there are plenty of historical examples of capital strikes, a recent case of such a maneuver occurred last year, when Uber and Lyft threatened to halt operations in California – one of the largest corporate markets – if the state enforces Pool Act 5 (AB5), a law that enforces Reclassification of “gig workers” who use these companies’ platforms as employees, with the protections and benefits guaranteed by the status. In launching these threats, so-called gig companies stressed the number of drivers who would lose their income if they closed the shop. The hand trick was clear: Instead of blaming Lyft and Uber for the loss of income, drivers should blame the state. Ultimately, the courts granted the companies a moratorium on enforcing the law, and not long after, the majority of California voters approved Proposition 22, a gig ballot measure that exempts these companies from AB5.
This is what happens when companies have enough money and political ties to stop getting involved in social details. Kroger can “afford” to pay an extra $ 4 an hour for a few of its workers, but that’s not the point – it doesn’t want that, so it won’t. “Mask,”. What is your take on this? Let us know in the comment section below!
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