The rally was held outside of a Ralphs store in the Marina Pacifica area. All photos by Ceferino Martirez.
Protests of The Kroger Company’s closing of two Long Beach stores continued as community organizations rallied on March 14 at Marina Shopping Centre demanding the stores remain open with hero pay, which has led to essential grocery workers being paid an extra four dollars for a total of 120 days.
They began by setting up a childcare facility and handing out fliers to the locals attending the event as they prepared to march to Ralphs to protest the closing of two “low performing” stores owned by The Kroger Company.
They marched to Ralphs demanding workers be prioritized over profits. Security stood by to prevent the protesters from entering the store, but protesters gave shoppers fliers with information about the issue.
“The community is reacting to corporate greed,” said Anthony Bryson, an event organizer. “When Kroger responded to the law by saying they want to close ‘low performing’ businesses their only motive is profit, they have no interest in supplying them the four dollar pay.”
Eric Boyd, an organizer from Against Bigotry, Responding with Action spoke about the importance of essential workers in the city.
“The essential workers are the ones that always get shafted and do all the work,” Boyd said.
Boyd and Espinoza both said family and friends that work as grocery workers have had their hours slashed by stores after the hero pay passed.
“They get treated like garbage, and get garbage too,” Boyd continued “We need a unified front to try and actually have some bargaining stake for workers.”
Many at the rally also expressed frustration with Mayor Robert Garcia’s inability to help working class communities. Steven Estrada of the Communist Party USA announced he is running for the district one Long Beach City Council seat in 2022.
“I’m here to bring awareness of corporate greed during a pandemic over temporary hazard pay!. These corporation are retaliating by closing up shops instead of giving them, what is essentially a meagre four dollars,” said a protester, who identified as Koko.