Kroger announced Monday that it will be closing two stores in Long Beach, California — a Ralph’s and a Food 4 Less — after the city council voted to require that large grocery store chains pay workers additional “hero pay” of $4 per hour.
Local Fox affiliate KTTV-11 reported:
Ralphs and Food 4 Less, both owned by the parent company Kroger, announced Monday that they will be closing 25% of their stores in Long Beach after the city council passed an ordinance requiring companies with over 300 employees nationwide to pay employees an extra $4 per hour.
“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 company spokesperson. “This misguided action by the Long Beach City Council oversteps the traditional bargaining process and applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city.”
The “hero pay” passed unanimously in January. And Los Angeles passed a similar measure Tuesday, according to National Public Radio:
Last month’s Long Beach ordinance has since been emulated by the Los Angeles City Council, which on Tuesday voted to pass a similar measure that requires groceries to pay an additional $5 per hour to their non-managerial employees. The council went one step further and included drug retail stores along with the grocery stores. It passed with unanimous consent Tuesday.
Labor unions have backed the “hero pay” for grocery store workers, who are among those considered “essential” workers, and who have kept shelves stocked for nearly a year despite the continued risk associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers, unions, and local leaders staged a protest Wednesday, demanding that Kroger reverse its “evil” decision to close the stores (which will be effective in April).
However, grocery stores often operate on small margins. Ironically, the effort to reward workers may result in more closures — leading to an increase in so-called “food deserts,” urban areas without ready access to fruits and vegetables.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.