LA County to provide extra $5 per hour in ‘hero pay’ for grocery workers

Long Beach and Montebello City have passed similar raises

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Essential workers in LA County could see an increase very soon.

Los Angeles County passed a vote on Tuesday that would allow grocery store workers to receive an extra $5 as “hero pay.” But not all Republicans are on board with the decision that received a 4-1 vote, per The Hill.

“I would hate to think we’re driving [out of business] the very businesses we fought so hard to locate in unincorporated areas, many of which are working-class neighborhoods … and that’s why I can’t vote for this,” said Kathryn Barger, Republican Supervisor.

Grocery store
Workers re-stock items during special hours open only to seniors and the disabled at Northgate Gonzalez Market, a Hispanic specialty supermarket, on March 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Credit: Getty Images)

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Long Beach and Montebello City have passed similar raises but concerns have been raised after two Kroger stores in Long Beach closed after a hazard pay measure passed. The new mandate would apply to retail drug companies, unincorporated areas, publicly-traded grocery stores, and stores with 300 employees or more across the county.

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Democratic Supervisor Hilda Solis, who supports the measure, says this will benefit essential workers who continued to work during the pandemic.

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Supermarket during COVID-19 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“These workers … have put their lives on the line since the beginning of the pandemic to keep our food supply chain running and provide access to medicine our families need,” said Solis. “Many are working in fear and without adequate financial support, while their employers continue to see profits grow and top executives receive steep pay bonuses.”

2,500 grocery store workers could receive a pay increase with the new initiative.

But The California Grocers Association is not on board with the pay increase and is threatening to sue like it has done in the past. Its concern is that the bargaining process will be disrupted.

“We’re going to be forced to sue [the county] if it passes,” said president and chief executive at the California Grocers Association, Ron Fong. “And that’s just unfortunate because it means we will comply obviously with an ordinance that has been passed legally, and the time clock starts as to making it harder for independent businesses doing business in the county of Los Angeles.”

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