Los Angeles Explores $5-Per-Hour Hero Pay Raise

The ordinance would apply to grocery, drug and convenience store frontline employees.

January 08, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved drafting an ordinance that would make national supermarket and drugstore retailers pay frontline workers an extra $5 an hour in “hero pay,” Abasto reports. If adopted, the ordinance would apply to retailers with at least 300 workers nationally and more than 10 staff per store who operate in unincorporated parts of the county.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell co-authored the motion calling for a temporary “urgency” ordinance that would apply to store chains that are publicly traded or have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, these workers have continued to show up to their jobs despite the dangers of being exposed to COVID-19. Because of their work on the front lines, families throughout the county have been able to access food and medicine they need during the pandemic,” said Supervisor Solis. “While there is a light at the end of the tunnel … the health threats these workers face are as real as they were at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who withheld a vote on the temporary “urgency” ordinance, called for more information before moving forward. “I am concerned the board is voting on a substantial pay increase for all employees, regardless of their position or salary, without taking the time to carefully consider the potential impacts of these decisions,” she said.

The California Grocers Association pushed back, calling for more analysis on how such an increase would impact stores and workers alike.

“Grocery store workers are frontline heroes, and that’s why grocers have undertaken a massive effort to institute store policies to make both workers and customers safer,” California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong said. “Many grocers have already provided workers with extra pay, bonuses and generous health benefits during the pandemic as a supplement to the fair, competitive wages and benefits collectively bargained by grocery workers’ unions,” Fong told Pasadena Now.

The board will consider a draft of the Hero Pay for Frontline-Grocery and Drug Retail Employees in Los Angeles County ordinance at its next meeting on Jan. 26. If approved, the hero pay would be in force for 120 days. Los Angeles and Long Beach cities are considering similar mandates.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.

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