By C. Powers
Community leaders organize to let Kroger employees know that they aren’t forgotten.
On Sunday February 21st Long Beach residents held a press conference and protest outside of Ralph’s in the Marina Pacifica Shopping Center.
This small group consisted of representatives from individual grassroot organizations such as Voices of Long Beach, C.O.R.E Movement, Sidewalkdick and more to protest Kroger’s decision to close down two grocery stores in the city of Long Beach.
The shutdown comes after the city council enacted “hero pay”, a $4 hourly increase for essential workers in the larger grocery stores. Kroger has stated that “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”. In response to the city’s decision, Kroger decided it would close two stores in Long Beach, a Ralph’s and Food 4 Less Location.
Now weeks later residents are still organizing to let their voices be heard about the decision from the grocer.
Bryson, Member of C.O.R.E Movement, started the press conference stating why the group was in attendance, to support essential workers who will lose their jobs to the closings and black/brown residents that are losing, what for most is, their only way to obtain healthy foods.
“The workers continue to work and continue to serve the communities they are involved in”, they said. Bryson and the group wanted to let the employees of Kroger know they are important to the community as a whole.
“What we would like to see is for both locations to stay open. We do not want to see our most essential assets being added to the unsecure unemployment crisis in America. We don’t want another American citizen or another citizen of Long Beach to be forced by that uncertainty that the pandemic has to offer”.
Bryson said he would like Kroger employees to have control over their income, maintain their employment, and want to hold Kroger accountable for “their decision to neglect the Kroger employees”.
After the conference the group marched to the front of the store chanting “Boycott Kroger” and “People over profit, Kroger better stop it” and then stood next to the front entrance. Bryson led by speaking on the megaphone about their cause to passerby customers going in and out of the Ralph’s. It took no time at all for some would-be customers to turn around and get back in their cars. As they left they would honk their horns and some even drove past the protesters to let them know they supported the cause.
Before leaving LoJo asked one of the representatives from Voices of Long Beach, who goes by “R”, why the crowd may have not been bigger. They stated besides from there being another demonstration at 3:00pm, a lot of the protests died last summer. “I think most of the people that left the movement or these types of events realized it’s more than just protests, ” they said.
“We have to work in the community, aid the community, and when people realize it’s more than just protest they leave, maybe even because they have the privilege to do so.”