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Workers hold placards in protest at a Food 4 Less supermarket in Long Beach, California on February 3, after a decision by owner Kroger to close two stores rather than pay workers an additional $4 in "hazard pay" for their continued work during the pandemic.
Staff maintain placards in protest at a Meals 4 Much less grocery store in Lengthy Seaside, California on February 3, after a choice by proprietor Kroger to shut two shops reasonably than pay staff a further $4 in “hazard pay” for his or her continued work throughout the pandemic. Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Photographs

Lots of of grocery retailer staff in Lengthy Seaside, California might quickly be with out jobs after Kroger introduced it will completely shut two shops to keep away from providing staff hazard pay throughout the pandemic.

The citywide hazard pay ordinance requires giant grocers to pay their employees an additional $4 per hour for no less than 4 months since staff face larger threat of publicity to the virus.

“It’s a slap within the face once they don’t wish to pay us what we deserve, placing our lives on the entrance line,” mentioned Clara Vega, common supervisor at one of many closing shops, a Meals 4 Much less grocery store. “We work so onerous, we work a lot extra time, it’s ridiculous.”

Native officers and the United Meals and Business Staff Worldwide Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million staff, condemned Kroger’s transfer to shut the shops as an alternative of accelerating workers’ pay.

“For the reason that pandemic started, Kroger has made billions in earnings due to the sacrifices of grocery staff who’ve been placing their very own well being and security on the road day-after-day,” UFCW Worldwide president Marc Perrone mentioned in a press release.
“Fairly than present the hazard pay these grocery staff have earned and deserve, Kroger determined to threaten these staff and the group’s entry to meals in the course of a public well being disaster.”

Revenue throughout the pandemic: The 2 shops slated for closure skilled gross sales will increase of as much as 31% for the reason that begin of the pandemic, based on Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Herrera mentioned Kroger has not too long ago seen a 90% revenue improve and spent $1.4 billion in inventory buybacks. CNN has reached out to Kroger for touch upon its earnings. 

Robert Gonzalez, a frozen meals clerk on the Meals 4 Much less, mentioned he was devastated to be taught his retailer will probably be closing after working for Kroger for 26 years. 

“After all of the onerous work I’ve executed to feed the needy households and threat my life and my household’s lives at dwelling, they do not wish to pay $4 additional an hour for 4 little months,” Gonzalez mentioned. “We additionally give donations each week to the homeless and needy households they usually wish to take that away. That’s so unsuitable and evil.”

Extra potential closures: Earlier this week, the cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland handed comparable hazard pay ordinances. Grocery retailer workers in Seattle who work for an organization with greater than 500 workers additionally noticed a $4 an hour hazard pay improve beginning Wednesday. Kroger informed CNN it was additionally contemplating further closures in a number of US cities.