Food 4 Less workers rally in Baldwin Park ahead of union contract negotiations

They're pushing for equity, fair pay, and safer stores ahead of their June 8 contract expiration.

Ashley Mackey Image
Friday, March 8, 2024
Food 4 Less workers rally ahead of contract negotiations
They're pushing for equity, fair pay, and safer stores ahead of their June 8 contract expiration.

BALDWIN PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of Food 4 Less workers rallied in Baldwin Park Thursday, demanding better pay and safer work environments as they prepare for contract negotiations with Kroger, the grocery store's parent company.

"Fair pay, our safety, we got a lot of people robbing and coming in," said Clara Vega, a warehouse clerk at a Southern California Food 4 Less. "Safety for our equipment in the store. Right now, our real big thing is fair pay."

The workers who attended Thursday's rally are from seven different United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) unions. They said workers at other union grocery stores make about $4 more an hour doing the same jobs.

"Food 4 Less stores are mostly in Black and brown communities, and very underserved communities whereas the other stores are in much more affluent communities, and that's just not fair," said Cathy Finn, the president of the UFCW Local 770, one of the unions. "They're doing the same work. It's pretty much like racial redlining."

They worked as essential workers through the pandemic, and now they say they have nothing to show for it.

"I believe that we put ourselves on the line when we were working through the pandemic," said Susan Hernandez, an all-purpose clerk for Food 4 Less. "I believe that we - Food 4 Less -deserves equality just like any other supermarket, and we're fighting for more than just pennies, cents, since we want the money."

"During the pandemic, they were heroes," said Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Yvonne Wheeler. "They were heroes and sheroes who stood up and continued to service us in those stores, and then after the pandemic, they don't want to pay them for the profits that they made."

Meanwhile, Kroger issued the following statement:

"We are negotiating with local UFCW, which is an essential part of the collective bargaining agreement, before it reaches its expiration. Food 4 Less looks forward to continuing to negotiate in good faith a contract that puts more money in our associates' pockets, maintains industry leading healthcare and a retirement for our associates' future. We will continue to balance our desire to invest in our associates, while keeping groceries affordable for our customers and maintaining a sustainable business for the future. Our associates are the most important piece of our business and we will continue to negotiate for an agreement that is in the best interest of our people."

Nearly 6,000 workers are represented under this current contract. Members are hoping to reach an agreement by June 8, which is when their contracts expire.