By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Protesters outnumbered shoppers at a Food 4 Less in East Hollywood over Kroger’s decision to close it in response to the city’s “hero pay” mandate.

Chants of “Save our store” from workers and activists echoed up and down the aisles of the Sunset Boulevard Thursday. The grocery store is one of three that Kroger says they will shut down on May 15 in response to $5 pay bump for grocery store workers passed by the city of Los Angeles.

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However, protesters and union representatives say Kroger’s profits have actually gone up during the pandemic.

“For this company then to turn around and then say, if you’re gonna, if communities are gonna make those decisions, we’re just gonna leave, we’re gonna take our $2.6 billion and go home – that’s just despicable,” Kathy Finn of UFCW Local 770 said.

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One of the stores Krogers says they will close in May is a Ralphs in the Pico-Robertson area that carries a large number of kosher products, which would leave fewer options for the local Jewish community.

Communities throughout Southern California have approved “hero pay” mandates for essential workers, particularly for grocery store workers. Kroger, which operates Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores, says it has made millions in investments to reward employees and implement safety measures, and that the hero pay mandates make it impossible to run financially sustainable businesses at stores that were already underperforming.

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Kroger also plans to close two stores in Long Beach over that city’s hazard pay mandate.