Ralphs, Food 4 Less locations shutting down in Long Beach over 'hero pay'

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Two grocery stores in Long Beach will permanently close Saturday after Kroger said it couldn't afford the city's "hero pay" law.

Kroger announced plans in February to close a Ralphs location on North Los Coyotes Diagonal and a Food 4 Less store on East South Street.

Kroger says the two stores have been underperforming, and that it would be financially impossible to keep both stores open if it had to pay workers the extra $4 an hour over four months.

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The planned emergency ordinance would order grocery store employers to pay their frontline employees an additional $4 an hour in hazard pay wages.

Mayor Robert Garcia was a major proponent of the ordinance. Before signing the measure, he wrote on Twitter that grocery workers "have been on the front lines of this pandemic and deserve this support.'' He added grocers have made record profits amid the pandemic.

The Long Beach City Council in January gave initial approval to a law requiring large grocers to pay its workers an extra $4 an hour in "hero pay" for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law applies to companies with 300 or more workers overall and more than 15 employees per location in Long Beach.

The California Grocers Association was among those opposing the ordinance, saying it would not do anything to boost the safety of workers, but could actually lead to higher costs for consumers.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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