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LA County Grocery Workers Get $5-Per-Hour Raise For The Next 4 Months

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Jobs in the grocery industry are actually down slightly from last year in the greater L.A. area. Chava Sanchez/LAist
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Employees at large grocery and drugstore chains in the unincorporated areas of L.A. County are going to get a temporary $5-per-hour boost in pay, under a measure approved today by the County Board of Supervisors. The grocery industry has vowed to try to block the measure in court.

Supervisors said the “hero pay” mandate is designed to recognize grocery workers for the risks they’ve faced on the job during a deadly pandemic.

“We must acknowledge the risk and the sacrifice these workers in our communities are making, and compensate them accordingly,” said Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who co-authored the proposal.

The measure applies to publicly-traded grocery companies or those with at least 300 employees nationwide.

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Supervisor Hilda Solis estimated that up to 2,500 workers in unincorporated L.A. County will get the hero pay — compared with an estimated 26,000 workers who would stand to receive a pay bump if a similar ordinance were enacted within the city of Los Angeles.

The 4-1 vote for the measure passed as an “urgency” ordinance, meaning it will take effect immediately. It’s slated to last for 120 days. Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the only “no” vote.

“I feel that today's motion doesn't address all our essential workers. It addresses a small sliver,” she said, asking why the county is not offering similar premium pay to its own frontline government employees. Barger also expressed concern that the mandate could lead to higher food prices or layoffs.

Today’s move comes after similar proposals have been considered in other parts of the state — including the city of L.A. — and even enacted in a number of municipalities such as Long Beach, where Kroger announced the closure of two grocery stores in response to the city’s temporary $4-per-hour pay hike.

California’s grocery industry says it will sue to block hero pay in L.A. County. It has already filed legal challenges against the same types of measures in other cities. This morning a judge heard the California Grocers Association's arguments for a preliminary injunction against Long Beach’s ordinance. A ruling in that case is expected soon.

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The industry has also gone to court to block a similar measure in West Hollywood.

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