Kroger’s Retaliatory Actions in Long Beach are Appalling
Statement from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO on the announcement by Kroger to close down two locations in response to the Long Beach City Council passing of an emergency ordinance for hero pay for grocery workers:
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is appalled by the retaliatory actions taken in Long Beach by the Kroger Corporation. Despite making record profits and issuing $1.3 billion in stock buybacks last year, Kroger decided to close two of their locations, destroying the lives of hundreds of workers, rather than rewarding their essential workers with hero pay. This was a despicable act designed to retaliate against their workers, whom the company loves to tout as essential, and against the communities that they serve. It is now obvious that Kroger views their workers and our communities as sacrificial rather than essential.
Sadly enough, this action was taken on the first day of Black History Month. On the very day that Kroger bragged about its commitment to racial equity, the company moved forward with closing a Food 4 Less in North Long Beach, a location that provides Black and Brown communities with indispensable access to food. Rather than investing in the essential workforce that has generated record profits for the company—a majority of whom are women and people of color– the company decided to choose profits over people, and turn its back on them. Kroger’s egregious action to deny hero pay also serves to deny our communities of extra revenue, which would serve as an economic stimulus in communities that desperately need it. It’s now clear that Kroger’s claims to support racial equity are merely a public relations stunt. Actions matter and will always speak louder than words.
These workers are heroes. They have met the call of duty every day since this pandemic began, reporting to work to ensure that grocery shelves remain stocked and our dinner tables don’t go empty. In the process, they have witnessed their coworkers and friends get infected with this deadly virus, and tragically, have watched as they have been hospitalized and even passed away. Yet through it all, they have remained committed to our communities. They never once walked off of the job or threatened to shut down a store, as they understood that it would have denied the community access to life saving goods. Yet when Kroger was asked to reward its workers with actions that amounted to more than words, it was the company who decided to close its doors, and deny communities access to essential life saving goods.
Ron Herrera, President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said, “Kroger’s decision sends an undeniable message of their priorities and the value they hold on their essential workers. Calling someone a hero and claiming to care about community are simply words, without meaning or value. It is the actions behind these words that show true intention. Sadly, Kroger has shown their true colors and has chosen to deny grocery workers an opportunity to put food on their own table, simply to save a dollar. That is not how a true corporate steward should act when making record profits.
Kroger’s actions will not deter the voices of working Americans. The Los Angeles Labor Movement will proudly continue to push for Hero Pay for grocery workers throughout Los Angeles County, and we call upon all elected officials to stand with these brave workers. Grocery workers have always stood with the community, and now it’s our turn to stand with them.”