Opinion: The Travesty of the Hero Pay Ordinance

How is it considered “social justice” when hundreds lose their jobs; residents including the elderly, disabled and those on fixed incomes must pay more to fulfill their basic needs; residents with transportation and mobility issues face challenges when local stores close; cities already challenged during the pandemic lose tax revenues that support social programs?

All this happening because the City Council passed its “Hero Pay” ordinance this week giving grocery store workers an extra $5 per hour in pay for the next 120 days.

The promise of store closures because of Hero Pay mandates is not a threat. Kroger has announced the closure of stores it owns because of it – a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less in Long Beach, plus two QFC Food Centers in Seattle.

As store closures in these two cities indicate it is real. Are we so naïve as to think that Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and Whole Foods, each with at least three stores in a three-mile radius of West Hollywood will not consider store closures?

And clearly Kroger, owners of Ralphs, has let their position be known.

And what about the unintended consequences of the very arbitrary nature of this ordinance? Unions have already moved forward to add more retailers to the Hero Pay mandate, including Best Buy. Now I have absolutely nothing against Best Buy and am very appreciative of their knowledgeable and professional staff, but are they more deserving of “hero pay” than nurses or home healthcare workers or teachers? But alas our city has opened that can of worms and now where will it stop?

To be clear, the city staff did virtually no vetting on this issue before the City Council heard it. They certainly did not engage with store management to see how they might react to such an ordinance. The did not sit down with local community members to present any kind of realistic outline of potential impacts to get their feedback. And without any real background on the issue and how it would impact our community, our council voted unanimously to pass the Hero Pay ordinance.

It does beg the question…. exactly who are our council members working for? In this case it is certainly not our local businesses. It is clearly not our residents. And with the threat of tax revenue losses, they are not even acting in the best interests of the city itself.

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James
James
17 hours ago

A $5/hr increase is a LOT. Wow. Easy to approve more money for others when it’s not coming out of your wallet/budget!

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
6 days ago

This is nothing more than selective virtue signaling on the part of the wannabe woke city council. A municipal government has no business micromanaging macroeconomic issues like this. It makes for good publicity, and resume padding, but is highly discriminatory and the messaging is vapid. There are heroes in every aspect of our world and in the response to COVID. The city council would do well to stop tinkering in things clearly above their collective paygrade. I am a strong advocate for a higher (much higher) minimum wage for all, but this is not the way to achieve that societal… Read more »

FJ1
FJ1
6 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Well said, Alan.

voter
voter
8 days ago

This is an insult to the housekeepers, nannies, waiters, entertainers, etc. who have lost their jobs and health care insurance due to the pandemic. Who decided to single out grocery workers for a $4,000.00 bonus? The grocery workers have stable jobs with good health care insurance. Why give these people our money?

Jason
Jason
8 days ago

While I don’t necessarily agree with the concept of “Hero Pay”. Let’s not pretend that these grocery stores have not reaped major gains from the pandemic. these stores can afford to keep the prices the same for 120 days of hero pay. Kroger profits are expected to be up 38 percent year over year and they are doing a 1 billion dollar buy back of their shares right now. If they didn’t do the buy back that would pay for 200,000,000 million hours of hero pay. Like i said I am don’t know if I am for “Hero Pay” but… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
8 days ago
Reply to  Jason

None of us know what they can or cannot afford, but the bottom line is, IT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!

Vigilent
Vigilent
8 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Opportunism (unfair business practices) vs. fairness is not everyone’s business?

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
8 days ago
Reply to  Vigilent

This hardly rises to what could be called unfair business practices. I don’t hear anyone calling for increased wages for health care workers or any of the many jobs that require employees to be in contact with the general public.

This is compassion without logic!

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
8 days ago
Reply to  Vigilent

as we all shop elsewhere. There’s a Bristol Farms on one side of the street….and a Ralphs across the street in LA.

Tom
Tom
7 days ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Ralphs is in West Hollywood. Check your map.

Jason
Jason
7 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

At some point it becomes my business. We gave these corporations a reduction in the tax rate from 34 to 21 percent. If their answer to that reduction is increasing dividends and stock buybacks then I say let’s raise the rate back to what it was.

Last edited 7 days ago by Jason
Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
7 days ago
Reply to  Jason

EVERYBODY got a reduction in their tax rate in 2017.

When corporations get a tax increase they just raise their prices to the consumers to cover it. When they get a reduction in their tax rate their prices also reflect that.

Jay
Jay
7 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

I remember that day in 2017 fondly- my groceries were cheaper than usual and when I asked the cashier about it they said management was excited to pass along their tax savings! …Not!

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
7 days ago
Reply to  Jay

You’re just not paying attention, Jay. It appears you don’t read business journals or watch business reports on cable news. Corporations did not raise their prices because of the tax cuts in 2017.

My annual income is under $90,000. My tax cut was enough to cover more than one month’s mortgage payment, property tax, HOA, and insurance, yet some politicians call the 2017 tax cuts “tax cuts for the rich”.

Jason
Jason
6 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Well it just happens that I am a Tax Partner one of the largest firms in the world and I can tell you it was a tax cut was for the rich. The data shows that the lowest income group saw no benefit, middle class taxpayers saw their after tax income go up by 1.6 percent and high income taxpayers saw their after tax income go up 2.9 percent. Also the middle class group was a mixed bag. Middle class taxpayers who itemized their deductions often saw an increase in their taxes because of the limit on state tax deduction.… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
9 days ago

While the hero pay increase will be temporary the price increases will wind up to be permanent. And that will affect locals and seniors on fixed incomes more than anybody – $5 per hour is really a $10 increase per hour as a cost. The employer pays workmen’s compensation based on the wages paid, plus matching deductions, and unemployment insurance etc. and it’s all ‘per hour’ so a employee now making $25-30 per hour and a market with slim margins and less ability to do ‘volume’ per hour w Covid regulations – equals a sum total that each employee needs… Read more »

Misogyny is embarrassing
Misogyny is embarrassing
6 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

It’s been called WORKERS’ compensation not “workmen’s” for may years, son. That’s because women exist and work and matter also. The change was decades late because, well, you know how dinosaurs are.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
6 days ago

Oh please!

voter
voter
10 days ago

I just got back from shopping at Gelson’s The prices for everything I bought are higher today than last week–and not by pennies. More like 50 cents to a $1 per item.

Shame on the city council members for imposing this tax on the residents of West Hollywood!

Randy
Randy
9 days ago
Reply to  voter

How could this already be? This ordinance isn’t even law, yet. Regarding Gelson’s, I lived on Flores, for years. I avoid that place. It is the most expensive store in West Hollywood. More-so than Whole Foods. Their prices are outrageous.

Jason
Jason
8 days ago
Reply to  voter

Gelson is the worst. They don’t have a great selection and their prices are terrible. I only go there if there if I am in a hurry and I need a fews things.

Kevin
Kevin
10 days ago

Totally agree. While the concept may be laudatory the practical ramifications it will have are long reaching, far beyond the immediate industry mentioned. This smacks of further socialism from our erstwhile city council

Ben Kawaller
10 days ago
Reply to  Kevin

It’s not socialism; it’s just overreach

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
10 days ago

100% agree. We all have choices outside of WH…….and with rising prices to offset this ….people will shop elsewhere.
It’s also making the stores find ways to eliminate more jobs…..and technology is making that easier every year.

SeeMe
SeeMe
10 days ago

A simple solution could be to regulate the bonuses being paid out to the CEOs and top executives of all the corporations that profited generously from the shut-down and distribute a portion of them to the workers. The CEOs did nothing to increase profits and should not be rewarded as a result, particularly when they were never put at greater risk in order to do their jobs. I have lived in West Hollywood for many years and have a great fondness for the workers in my local markets and know how terrified they have been. It would be such a… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
10 days ago
Reply to  SeeMe

How is it the business of government to regulate and distribute the profits of the private sector? How is it the business of city council to say ANYTHING about the wages of grocery store workers? That kind of governmental intervention is the very definition of socialism.

Last edited 10 days ago by Gimmeabreak
SeeMe
SeeMe
9 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

I don’t disagree with you in terms of the government, federal or local, making this a demand. However, sometimes a little socialism isn’t a terrible thing, especially when you consider how much the pandemic has disproportionately affected lower-income people.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
8 days ago
Reply to  SeeMe

Grocery workers are hardly lower income, but some of them are going to be when their hours are cut or they lose their job altogether because of this very expensive wage increase.
And what about the people who are truly low income whose cost for food is going to go up when stores raise their prices to us consumers?

It’s frightening for you to say, “sometimes a little socialism isn’t a terrible thing”, but I can take some comfort that at least you called it what it is; socialism!

Weho Poster
Weho Poster
10 days ago

This entitled, whining, screed from the Chamber of Commerce–typical of the Chamber’s antisocial views–should never have been published.

Keith: get a life, and get a real job

Tom
Tom
10 days ago

A few months of hero pay for grocery workers responsible for such damage, and it hasn’t been even implemented yet? Care to add on to the list of things hero pay has caused? Global Warming? That pesky extra flab around our middles? “Firefly” being cancelled?

FJ1
FJ1
10 days ago

The council didn’t want to feel left off the woke train. Other west coast cities are doing it…so they jumped on board. They went after ever deep pocket retailer that they could. Even trying to squeeze in Target…classifying it as a supermarket. (Best Buy next…cause you know..everyone is a hero) They smelled someone else’s money and put their hand in every pocket they could. I hope that these businesses sue the pants off them. Government overreach at it’s finest, leading us down the road of socialsim. You think you can’t get toilet paper now…just wait.

Last edited 10 days ago by FJ1
Jon
Jon
10 days ago
Reply to  FJ1

Please detail further how this will lead to a decline in toilet paper production/supply chain.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
10 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Venezuela, Jon, and any other country that has been caught in the snare of socialism.

Last edited 10 days ago by Gimmeabreak
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