All photos by Ceferino Martirez.
Protests at Kroger stores in Long Beach continued as around 40 people gathered April 8 at the Food 4 Less in North Long Beach.
The crowd protested the upcoming closure of two Kroger stores in Long Beach, which the company announced after the city passed a temporary hero pay ordinance.
They also conducted a performance where they collected donations to help raise funds for the workers, in an effort “to shame Kroger over its greedy behavior,” according to a press release.
“I’m here to fight for no more closure for my workers,” said Hilda Renteria, a Food 4 Less worker. “Food 4 Less has cut my hours [to] 20 hours a week, I don’t know how anyone can survive [on] 20 hours a week.”
The Food 4 Less and a Ralphs in East Long Beach are both set to permanently close on April 17.
Protesters demanded that Kroger keep workers employed and stores open and filled, to provide for the Long Beach community.
“You’d think with the closure, that they’d at least mark down the prices so that folks like me can buy more,” a customer who identified as Paul said.
“They don’t care about us. They don’t see us as human beings, they see us as numbers,” said Long Beach Residents Empowered (LiBRE) Project Director Beto Lopez. “Shame on them! I don’t know how they can sleep at night.”
A resident of the Northside, Lopez said he often visits the store as it’s a two minute walk from his home to the store to get groceries, especially during a pandemic
“They’re the backbone in this economy,” said former city councilmember Tonia Reyes Uranga. “It’s disgusting, they were here when the community needed them the most to provide money to their CEO and business plan… And now they dispose of us when we’re not needed.”
Uranga said she hopes the workers know the community will not forget them.
“We’re fighting for the community and the public to know that this will not be tolerated,” said UFCW Union Local 324 President Andrea Zinder. “Workers are here everyday working while the community relies on this store.”
Zinder said about 160 workers will be given the choice to move to a new location, however whether or not new locations will be close enough for employees to travel to remains uncertain.