A survey of Kroger grocery workers shows that a majority are food insecure and have trouble paying their bills

Kroger didn’t worry too much about belt-tightening during the pandemic. The company, which owns 2,800 stores across the country under 20 different brand names, saw its annual revenue increase by 8 percent last year, to $132 billion. But workers heralded as “essential” for keeping the company running during a global pandemic have not benefited as much. In fact, a new survey of more than 10,000 Kroger workers in Southern California, Colorado, and Washington State commissioned last summer by their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, found that 78 percent of workers are food insecure, nearly two-thirds do not make enough money to cover basic expenses every month, and 14 percent have been homeless in the past year. As BuzzFeed reports, workers have slept in their cars in grocery store parking lots and filled garbage bags with discarded soda cans to raise the extra cash needed to cover rent and other costs. On Wednesday morning, grocery workers went on strike at Kroger-owned King Soopers stores in the Denver area after United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 rejected the company’s “last, best and final offer.” The Denver Post reports that the proposed contract would have included wage increases and health care benefits along with ratification bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $4,000, but would have restricted overtime and maintained a two-tier pay structure. —Matthew Sedacca