The Los Angeles City Council’s Economic Development and Jobs Committee voted Tuesday to move forward a proposed emergency ordinance that would require large grocery and pharmacy retailers to offer employees an additional $5 per hour in hazard day amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grocery and pharmacy retailers with 300 or more employees nationally and 10 or more employees on site would be required to add the hazard pay to their workers’ wages, according to the motion.
“The health threat that these grocery workers face cannot be overstated — recent studies before the current surge report grocery workers to be five times more likely to test positive,” the motion stated.
“These workers must be justly compensated for the clear and present dangers of doing their jobs during the pandemic by requiring their employers to provide hazard pay.”
During the committee meeting Tuesday, Councilman Curren Price said the hazard pay would be required for 120 days.
“These workers deserve to receive premium pay on top of their hourly wage. Putting them in this position as COVID-19 cases continue to surge without any type of hazard pay, is not only morally wrong but is disrespectful for all of their efforts,” Price said.
“Some companies, like Trader Joe’s, have provided a form of premium pay to their workers throughout this pandemic, and we commend them for it. And while it would be ideal if more companies followed in their footsteps, the reality is that’s just not happening.”
The motion was introduced by Price, along with Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Koretz.
Deputy City Attorney Dania Minassian told the committee Long Beach recently enacted an emergency ordinance for $4 per hour in hazard pay, and Berkeley, Santa Monica, San Jose, Los Angeles County and San Mateo County are considering drafting hazard pay ordinances.
Long Beach’s ordinance was challenged in court by the California Grocers Association. A hearing is scheduled on Feb. 19.
Minassian said the City Attorney’s Office would be comfortable moving forward with the ordinance “once we get additional instructions and have some clarity on the scope of the ordinance.”
All five members of the committee — Price, Paul Krekorian, Bob Blumenfield, Nithya Raman and Marqueece Harris-Dawson — voted to move the motion forward.