Quit or Commute? Portsmouth Kroger employees face difficult decision as store closes

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-18 10:24:57-04

Portsmouth, Va. - A sign on the door at the Kroger on High Street in Portsmouth says, "This Kroger will permanently close on April 11, 2015."

It was a shock to both customers and employees last week.

"I felt betrayed," said employee Steve.

Steve, who wants to remain anonymous, works at the Kroger and wants to stay there, but his only options are to quit or commute. The reason is because a Kroger spokesperson says the employees there signed a 4-year contract which guaranteed work, but only at 6 specific locations.

"I'm sure they are going to offer you a job," he said. "But if you can't take it, then you don't have a job."

Those locations are:

1. 4625 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455

2. 1800 Republic Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23454

3. 101 Village Ave Yorktown, VA 23693

4. 205 East Little Creek Road Norfolk, VA 23505

5. 3330 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, 23452

6. 975 Providence Square Virginia Beach, VA 23464

"There's been a lot of people that work there that are going to quit because they walk to work, some of them take the bus to work and they aren't going to be able to afford to go to Virginia Beach or Yorktown to work," says Steve. "It's going to make it rough, cost of gas, wear and tear on my car, which I haven't put a lot of miles on my car, not to mention tolls."

In the past few years, Kroger has built two additional locations that are much closer to the one on High Street. There is on in Suffolk on College Drive and another just 4 miles away on Frederick Boulevard.

Kroger says the two new stores are not an option because they are not unionized. Kroger spokesperson Lindsay Grant told NewsChannel 3:

"Due to labor agreements, Kroger can only guarantee employment at Kroger stores that represent unionized associates. High Street associates currently have six Kroger stores to seek employment. The Kroger Marketplace stores opened without union representation and, therefore, are not part of the agreement. In addition, the Kroger Marketplace in Portsmouth is currently fully staffed. Often with recently opened stores, we remain at capacity for an extended period of time."

Grant also says the decision to close the store was difficult.

"We're aware of the different circumstances that our associates face and that makes the decision even harder. In the end, we had to make the decision to close the store based on the decreased customer base and sales."

The doors at the High Street Kroger will close April 11th.