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Letters to the Editor: Grocery workers shouldn’t have to be ‘heroes.’ Just make their stores safer

A man holds a sign that reads "Closing Food 4 Less is retaliation against workers fighting for hazard pay."
People protest outside a Food 4 Less in Long Beach on Feb. 3. over the decision by Kroger to close grocery stores over “hero pay” rules.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I fully agree that the grocery store workers are heroes. However, how does requiring them to be paid more solve the problem here? Are we saying to workers that it’s OK if you get sick, so long as you are paid more?

The sensible answer here is to spend money to lower their risk.

For example, when I once reported a customer who was not wearing a mask to a Ralphs store manger, I was told that they would not put an employee at risk by confronting the offending customer. If that’s the case, then each store should hire a security officer to enforce the mask policy.

They should also spend money to make sure their employees have the best masks available and on anything else that improves the safety of their workers. Isn’t it better to force the stores to spend money to lower the risk to their employees, rather than give them extra money, which does nothing to protect their health?

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Peter Steinman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: It’s great for a grocery store giant like Kroger that its Ralphs and Food 4 Less chains are bringing in record profits during a pandemic. But when the people who actually do the work ask for better pay, they’re shut out and Kroger closes stores.

Maybe someone should tell Kroger that the workers and not the stockholders are responsible for their success.

Kroger is on the wrong side of this, and its bosses will live to regret their decisions against the workers during this pandemic.

Mindy Taylor-Ross, Venice

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To the editor: I am 100% in favor of hazard pay for grocery workers, as they are on the front line every day risking their lives for often ungrateful customers.

But it makes no sense to force the grocery companies to pay for it. Instead, the state and federal governments should cover the cost of “hero pay.”

This should be no different than government paying for testing and vaccines (which they are mostly doing) or extended unemployment benefits (which they are halfheartedly doing). Come on lawmakers, step up and pay the grocery workers their hazard pay.

Lee Breisacher, Manhattan Beach


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