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California ‘Hero Pay’ Ordinance Forces Kroger Closures

This result certainly wasn’t what local lawmakers intended, but it was actually quite predictable

By guest author Brad Polumbo
February 5, 2021

A new “Hero Pay” mandate in Long Beach, California has inadvertently cost some frontline grocery workers their jobs.

“Ralphs and Food 4 Less, both owned by the parent company Kroger, announced Monday that they will be closing 25% of their stores in Long Beach after the city council passed an ordinance requiring companies with over 300 employees nationwide to pay employees an extra $4 per hour,” local news outlet Fox 11 reports. Two stores in the area will be shut down.

A company spokesperson directly cited the city council’s ordinance mandating higher wages as the reason they are closing down.

“The irreparable harm that will come to employees and local citizens as a direct result of the City of Long Beach’s attempt to pick winners and losers, is deeply unfortunate,” the spokesperson said. “We are truly saddened that our associates and customers will ultimately be the real victims of the city council’s actions.”

The ordinance was passed with the stated intention of rewarding hard-working grocery store employees who have kept a vital service running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia was a key proponent of the measure and signed it into law. He argues it is justified because grocery store workers “have been on the frontlines of this pandemic and deserve this support.”