On Wednesday, May 8, exactly one month before Food 4 Less workers’ contract expires,  Food 4 Less workers, the contract bargaining committee, and community supporters delivered 836 petitions containing 4184 signatures in Orange County to store management and company representatives demanding a contract that respects their work and provides equity with other union grocery stores in California. 

The Kroger Co.-owned Food 4 Less stores, frequently situated in lower-income communities of color, maintain prices often comparable to higher-end Ralphs stores. Yet, the disparity in wages, especially for the predominantly Black and Latino workforce at Food 4 Less stores, highlights a staggering reality where these essential workers are overwhelmingly cost-burdened, facing housing insecurity, and struggling to provide food for their families despite playing crucial roles in providing food access to their communities.

Negotiations for a new contract for Southern California Food 4 Less/Foods Co. workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) began on April 10th and yielded no meaningful progress. Workers have been frustrated by the company’s unwillingness to discuss key issues like fair wages and equity with other grocery stores in the first several bargaining sessions, even though the contract is set to expire in exactly one month. In an unusual move, store management has even refused to accept petitions from workers at stores throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. 

“We are here today to deliver a petition demanding equity with California’s other union grocery stores. After six days of negotiations with the company and limited discussion of wages, we don’t feel like they are listening to us,” said Richelle Vasquez, a scan coordinator from Food 4 Less in West Covina and a member of the UFCW bargaining committee. “These petitions, signed by 4,184 of our Food 4 Less/Foods Co. co-workers across Southern California, show the power of our unity and solidarity and that we’re not going to back down until we get a fair contract.”

“Food 4 Less, Foods Co., and their parent company Kroger, have made record-breaking profits because of the hard work we do,” said Victoria Jacobo, a cashier from Food 4 Less in Stanton and a member of the UFCW bargaining committee. “Our contract expires in one month, and we are here fighting to improve our stores, working conditions, and neighborhoods. All of my co-workers have signed these petitions demanding respect from the company. It’s time they listen to us and get serious about our demands.”

“The fact that some stores are refusing even to accept our petitions and listen to what their workers have to say shows that Food 4 Less/Foods Co. does not value the work we do,” said Cassandra Olvera, a liquor clerk at Food 4 Less in North Hills and a member of the UFCW bargaining committee. “They are not listening to us at the bargaining table, and now they are not listening to workers in the store. We hope that by delivering our petitions signed by union siblings across Southern California to the company, they will have no choice but to listen to us now.”

The petitions, signed by 4,184 workers represented by seven UFCW locals across Southern California, tell Kroger that workers need a fair contract that gives them equity with other union grocery store workers, respects their essential work, provides them with the wages and benefits needed to raise families and the staffing and store safety required to improve customers’ shopping experience.

Food 4 Less, Foods Co., and their parent company, Kroger, have made record-breaking profits in recent years. Food prices are at a 30-year high, and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen is making over $19 million a year, while the average Kroger employee makes just $19 an hour. Food 4 Less/Foods Co. workers do not earn nearly as much as Kroger-owned Ralphs workers – sometimes $4-$7 per hour less, despite Kroger turning a higher wage per profit at many Food 4 Less/Foods Co. stores than Ralphs in comparable areas.

The worker-led bargaining committee returns to the table to continue negotiations with the company on May 22, 2024.

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