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Kroger To Close 2 California Stores To Avoid Hazard Pay For Workers

kroger feb03 lt

Grocery giant Kroger Co. is planning to close two of its stores in Long Beach, California to avoid a mandatory pay hike of $4 per hour for front-line employees in hazard pay for working during the coronavirus pandemic, multiple reports said.

The decision was taken after the Long Beach City Council last month passed a Hazard Pay law requiring some supermarkets to pay the temporary hike for the risks associated with the pandemic for at least the next 120 days.

The company will close its Ralphs store and its Food 4 Less store in the city on April 17.

Reports quoted Kroger as saying "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. 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."

Kroger also warned that it could close down more stores as many cities across California are considering whether to mandate hazard pay for grocery workers.

In January, Long Beach became the first city in California to approve the hazard pay ordinance. The law requires supermarkets with at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 15 employees within Long Beach to pay an additional $4 per hour to their local employees.

Kroger has invested $1.3 billion since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as rewards to employees as well as to implement safety measures. The company has also launched $15 Million Helping Hands fund.

Los Angeles City Council has voted recently to pass an ordinance that requires grocery stores and drug retail stores to pay an additional $5 per hour to their non-managerial employees.

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