Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell Wednesday announced they have teamed up on an emergency proposal to require additional hourly pay for grocery store workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the council members introduced a motion to have the City Attorney’s Office draft an ordinance to require grocery stores with 300 or more employees to pay their personnel an additional $5 per hour, and for that rule to remain in effect as long as Los Angeles is under the state’s “widespread” (purple), “substantial” (red), or “moderate” (orange) COVID-19 designations.

“Our grocery store workers ensure so many of us have food and critical items to keep our families fed and safe during this pandemic,” Martinez said. “Every Angeleno recognizes the importance of the sacrifices and inherent risk they take on our behalf. Their pay should match the indispensable service they provide us during these trying days, and that is why Council member O’Farrell and I introduced this motion.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store workers in Los Angeles and throughout California have continued to report to work during stay-at-home health orders, O’Farrell said. They have served their communities despite the ongoing hazards and danger of being exposed to the novel coronavirus.

“Despite the highest surge of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, our grocery store workers continue to show up every day, serving customers and providing the essentials that residents across the city need to stay safer at home,” O’Farrell said. “This is by definition hazardous work, and the money they earn should be commensurate with the risks associated on the job.”

The Southern California region has some of the highest caseloads in the world, putting essential workers at elevated risk, the council members stated.

The motion will be heard in the council’s Economic Development Committee in early 2021.

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