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L.A. City Councilmembers introduced a motion to investigate the Kroger Co. after it decided to close down three stores in response to an employee “hero pay” ordinance.

After the city council approved a mandate to increase grocery worker pay by $5 per hour in March, Kroger announced it would be closing two Ralphs stores and one Food 4 Less market on May 15.

Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Marqueece Harris-Dawson introduced the motion to investigate on Thursday to “protect the city and its residents.”

“The city has an interest in considering whether it should take legislative action to address these closures and potentially future closures of other grocery stores especially in areas of the city that are commonly known as Food Deserts,” the motion read. “In order to do so, the City Council should seek information from the grocery stores and their executive management to better understand their actions and inform the City Council on ways that might protect the city and its residents from the consequences of these types of closures.”

Among the motion’s suggestions is to examine witnesses in order to assess the store closures and request the appearance of store executives.

The stores have not gone without protest, as employees from the closing stores have urged the company to rethink its closure after the company reportedly made 56% in profits during the pandemic.

“The whole point of the hazard pay is for us to be compensated for all the hard work we do and the higher risk of Covid infection that we face while doing our jobs,” Brittany Bouknight, a Ralphs employee from the closing Pico Boulevard store said through a UFCW release. “While helping our communities buy their food so they can sustain their families, we’ve also experienced verbal and even physical abuse when reminding people to keep social distance or wear their face masks properly.”

Kroger announced similar closures after the city of Long Beach set an order for an additional $4 per hour in hero pay to essential workers.

“When large corporations make record profits and double their earnings – they need to share that success with those providing the labor. Period,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said after Kroger’s announcement.

The three Los Angeles stores that will be closing are Food4Less at 5420 W. Sunset Blvd., the Ralphs at 9616 W. Pico Blvd. and the Ralphs at 3300 W. Slauson Ave.

 

LA Weekly