Grocers Association Sues West Hollywood Over ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers

The California Grocers Association filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city of West Hollywood, challenging a city ordinance requiring a $5 “hero pay” salary boost for some workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to require large grocery stores to give employees a $5 per hour pay raise for the next 120 days in “hero pay.”

The WeHo Council did this saying grocery workers keep the community functioning during the pandemic but risk being exposed to the coronavirus every time they come to work.

“Right now in the middle of a pandemic, I can’t think of a more hazardous place to be than a grocery store,” said Councilmember Sepi Shyne, who termed it as “hazard pay” rather than “hero pay.”

The California Grocers Association (CGA) previously sued the cities of Montebello and Long Beach, challenging those cities’ similar ordinances. A hearing to discuss a preliminary injunction in the Long Beach case is set for Feb. 23 in Los Angeles federal court.

“In addition to clearly violating federal and state law, the extra pay mandates will harm customers and workers,” said Ron Fong, president and CEO of the CGA.

A $5-per-hour mandate amounts to a dramatic increase in labor costs for grocery stores, Fong said.

“That is too big a cost increase for any grocery retailer to absorb without consequence,” he said. “Options are few. Either pass the costs to customers, cut employee or store hours, or close. Already two stores closed in Long Beach after the city enacted a $4/hour pay increase. Nearly 200 workers lost those jobs.”

The association alleges that in voting to approve the ordinances, city councils have ignored low profit margins, and significant operational costs grocers have incurred in response to the pandemic, including the hiring of tens of thousands of additional employees.

However, grocery stores have been reporting record high profits during the pandemic. The Kroger Company, parent company to both Ralphs and Food 4 Less, was able to buy back almost $1 billion in stock. On the other hand, Kroger also made a $1.5 billion investment into safety precautions to protect its associates.

The Los Angeles City Council has also voted unanimously to move forward with a proposed emergency ordinance that would require grocery and pharmacy retailers with 300 or more employees nationally and 10 or more employees on site to add the $5 hazard pay to all hourly, non-managerial employees’ wages for 120 days.

City News Service contributed information for this story

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

11 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Manny
Manny
11 days ago

$5 an hours doesn’t save lives. I’d rather see the city offer free routine COVID testing and advocate for vaccines. Shouldn’t that be the priority?

Vigilant
Vigilant
11 days ago

West Hollywood’s new doormat.

LAWSUITS WELCOME!

After all its only money.

Larry Block
Larry Block
12 days ago

It only took two months for the new council to get itself into a lawsuit. Both Duran and Heilman had legal backgrounds and although lawsuits have been brought forward in the past never this type. This is another payback to the unions who supported two candidates- Erickson amd Shyne – the agenda prior also had item 2o – which asked for JVS SoCal to give into the AFSCME local 800 demands. We used to take note of council votes and donations to developers, the tide has turned now its time to watch the payback to the unions.

Randy
Randy
11 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Even if what you said is true (about payback to unions, which I don’t agree with), this was a unanimous vote. So if those two Johns were still on the Council and voted against the ordinance, it still would have passed. It wasn’t the “new Council” that got itself into a lawsuit (new Councilmembers). It was the entire City Council.

Ken Howard
Ken Howard
12 days ago

It is laughable that the “association” of grocers brings a lawsuit when these workers are risking their lives by direct contact with the public like that. They post RECORD PROFITS and then balk at a minor increase? There only options, despite what they claim, are NOT to “charge higher prices, cut hours, or close stores”; the other obvious option is to have LESS PROFIT for stock buybacks and stop them from exploiting their employees and their customers. RISE UP! The Labor Movement has been hobbled in this country for decades due to sheer GREED from Republicans, and it’s time for… Read more »

disappointed
disappointed
12 days ago

The employees are fortunate to have jobs during these difficult times. This is a tax on the residents of West Hollywood who will pay higher prices for groceries and necessities. Really ignorant decision.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Eric Jon Schmidt
12 days ago

Hero pay for grocery workers? What an insult to the true heros: Nurses, Dr.s. Paramedics, Firemen, Mail Carriers, Etc.. Omg, what has this world come to when a person whose only job is to scan products and bag groceries are considered heros? This is one of the best examples of “dumbing down” of America when we misuse a term like that. The job is so insignificant that stores have self-check out. I strongly agree that the City should be sued for such an ignorant and reckless use of authority. I would also look into the Council Members who voted for… Read more »

cody warlock
cody warlock
11 days ago

How is a mail carrier any more of a hero than a grocery store worker? Grocery clerks have literally dozens of different people in their face all day long, mail carriers are outdoors and come in contact with very few people. Sounds like you’re stigmatizing grocery clerks for some reason. What is the world coming to when people look down their noses on grocery workers simply for being grocery workers. Obviously the fact that they’re risking their lives to scan groceries means absolutely nothing to a “dumbed down America”.

Last edited 11 days ago by cody warlock
Randy
Randy
11 days ago

“The job is so insignificant that stores have self-check out.” What an elitist thing to say. Seriously. Whatever these people are doing, they are exposed to hundreds or thousands of people each and every week. That is high risk, and they should be compensated for taking that risk. Grocery chains are posting record profits. Kroger just did a huge buyback. Their CEO makes $20 million per year, not including bonuses and benefits. ALL Councilmembers voted for this. Where did the idea come from? This article clearly states that there are other local municipalities who have, or are considering a similar… Read more »

TomSmart
TomSmart
12 days ago

I have ZERO sympathy for the stores. Your staff are saving your butts and putting their lives at risk as evidenced by all of the positive Covid results being reported from these stores (and reported on this site).

Ken Howard
Ken Howard
12 days ago
Reply to  TomSmart

Exactly! The Pavilions in West Hollywood has had major outbreaks, and only recently was removed from the list of outbreak businesses. Meanwhile, the Greedy Grocers “association” sits back and collects profits while rising prices and cutting service. Vile. Workers: UNITE!

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content


TaxSlayer Simply Free Tax Filing

0
0
vote
Article Rating
11
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x