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'Hero Pay' For Grocery Workers Gains Traction In Long Beach And LA

Outside an Aldi grocery store on Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach, signs read "heroes work here."
(Megan Garvey/LAist)
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The Long Beach City Council this week passed a resolution that would require "hero pay" for all frontline grocery workers, a move other cities, including Los Angeles, are also considering.

The ordinance would require grocery stores to pay their hourly employees an additional $4 an hour in hazard pay wages for 120 days. It would apply to companies with at least 300 employees nationwide.

The move came as an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths continued across the nation, with L.A. County health officials saying today that 1 in 80 county residents is now believed to be infectious.

At Tuesday's Long Beach City County meeting, Councilwoman Mary Zendejas said grocery workers are putting a lot on the line:

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"We are living in such uncertain times with this pandemic and I'm hopeful that things will get better and hope that all of my colleagues will support our frontline workers who are risking their lives to bring food to our table."

Last night's vote was unanimous. It directs the city attorney to work up that hazard pay ordinance.

On Twitter, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia says he'll sign it as soon as it's passed — and that could be as soon as next Tuesday.

A proposal for additional pay for grocery workers is making it's way to the L.A. City Council, too.

L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O'Farrell have asked the city attorney to draft an emergency ordinance boosting pay.

In their motion this week, Martinez and O'Farrell noted that "grocery workers cannot choose to work from home — they must come in to work to do their jobs, which involves substantial interaction with customers."


"The number of COVID-19 clusters within the grocery industry in the City of Los Angeles continues to rise significantly. The health threat that these grocery workers face cannot be overstated — recent studies before the current surge report grocery workers to be 5 times more likely to test positive."

The increase they're proposing in L.A. would be $1 an hour higher than Long Beach, so an additional $5 an hour. A decision on that measure might not come until 2021, now just over two weeks away.


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