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Long Beach City Council Passes Measure Requiring $4 Per Hour In Extra Pay For Grocery Workers

Outside an Aldi grocery store on Atlantic Ave. in Long Beach, signs read "heroes work here."
(Megan Garvey/LAist)
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The city council of Long Beach voted unanimously on Tuesday night to require that grocery stores give their workers a temporary $4-per-hour pay bump during the COVID pandemic.

“These folks that are working at these markets and these grocery stores are heroes,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “They have received this type of additional pay in the past. And if they deserved it in the past, they deserve it today.”

Officials in Los Angeles County, the city of L.A. and Santa Ana have also taken up similar premium pay proposals, but Long Beach is the first to enact the mandate.

Santa Monica’s city council voted earlier this month to match any ordinance passed by L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors, which has not yet voted on its final plan.

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Lawmakers say the extra pay is necessary to recognize the increased risks grocery workers are facing as COVID cases surge in the L.A. area.

California’s grocery industry, which lobbied against the proposals, filed a lawsuit against the city of Long Beach on Wednesday morning.

The California Grocers Association (CGA) filed the challenge in federal court, calling the ordinance unconstitutional and asking for a preliminary injunction to prevent the premium pay mandate from going into effect until a ruling is made.

CGA president Ron Fong said in an emailed statement, “This ordinance is clearly illegal in that it interferes with the collective-bargaining process and singles out only certain grocers while ignoring other retail workers and workers in other industries providing essential services during the pandemic.”

Long Beach’s ordinance would apply to larger grocery stores with at least 300 workers nationwide and more than 15 employees per store within the city. The mandate requires those employers to offer premium pay for 120 days. After that, the ordinance expires.

Because city councilmembers passed the measure as an “emergency ordinance,” it was set to take effect immediately.

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