Food 4 Less Workers Plan Strike Vote to Demand Fair Wages

After their union contract with the Food 4 Less chain, which Kroger owns, expires, around 6,000 grocery store workers will vote on whether to go on strike. 

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are voting on whether to authorize a strike for unfair labor practices in the event that a new agreement cannot be reached. If there is going to be a strike, Food 4 Less is planning to post ads for substitute workers.

Workers are complaining that their pay and benefits have fallen behind those of other local grocery businesses, and salary hikes are one of the main points of contention. 

Warehouse clerk and negotiating committee member Clara Vega has worked for Food 4 Less in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. According to her, workers are demanding better working conditions, more secure workplaces, and pay that is competitive with nearby grocery stores.

Despite supermarket stores’ meteoric rise in revenues, she feels workers are not being compensated accordingly. She notes that employees were celebrated as “heroes” and seen as indispensable during the COVID-19 epidemic, yet they were not rewarded.

Longtime Los Angeles Food 4 Less employee Susan Hernandez lost her seniority pay and was laid off after working for Kroger’s 1990s acquisition of the Viva supermarket company.

Because Food 4 Less stores disproportionately employ people of color and serve low-income neighborhoods, the union has voiced its disapproval of the wage disparities. 

Kroger claims that it supports diversity and inclusion. 

In 2022, the Economic Roundtable surveyed Kroger supermarket workers and discovered that fourteen percent were either homeless or were experiencing homelessness. Additionally, sixty-three percent of the workers claimed that they did not have enough money each month to fulfill their basic needs.

The company’s last and best offer, according to a Food 4 Less representative, involves a $3.25/hour salary raise over three years with no increases to healthcare benefits. 

They were hoping that UFCW Southern California would stay on the negotiating table until the contract expired, but instead choose to walk away, leaving their valuable members’ demands unmet.