On May 1, Los Angeles community organizations, civil rights and church organizations, and unions mobilized for a third unified demonstration — this time a car caravan. The coalition demanded the end to Kroger’s planned grocery store closures.
The coalition was formed after Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, announced the closing of five stores in Los Angeles County. The stores — Ralphs and Food 4 Less — are owned by Kroger.
Kroger cried poverty in response to being forced to pay an extra $5 per hour in wages for just 120 days to compensate essential workers during the pandemic. Yet Kroger made $2.8 billion in profits during the pandemic alone, through the labor of workers risking their lives.
Kroger’s plan is an assault on its workers and the communities that depend on them, especially Black and Brown communities that already suffer from a lack of affordable, healthy and quality food. It threatens to create more food deserts in underserved neighborhoods.
The caravan began at the Ralphs store in South Central Los Angeles with a large picket line made up of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 workers, joined by other coalition members, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, Families of Park Mesa Heights, Service Employees Local 721, Unión del Barrio and United Workers Assembly.
The participants then got in their cars to begin the caravan to Food 4 Less in East Hollywood.
There the protesters held an ending rally that took up the entire parking lot and had management running out the door to see what was causing the commotion. Chants and speakers rang out in harmony with Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” playing in the background.
SEIU Local 721 provided the sound truck and sound system.