LOS ANGELES, CA – The Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, to provide “Hero Pay” to frontline grocery and drug retail employees in the County.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the importance of industries deemed essential, including grocery and drug retail employees,” said Chair Solis. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, these workers have continued to show up to their jobs despite the dangers of being exposed to COVID-19. Because of their work on the frontlines, families throughout the County have been able to access food and medicine they need during the pandemic. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with the approval and administration of the vaccine, the health threats these workers face are as real as they were at the beginning of the pandemic given the surge of cases in our County. It is imperative that we act with urgency to support just compensation for grocery and drug retail employees by requiring their employers to provide ‘Hero Pay’.”
In Los Angeles County, grocery retailers have experienced a surge in outbreaks with 500 businesses currently under investigation by the Department of Public Health alone. Meanwhile, some of the largest grocery retailers in the nation and County have flourished and expanded their market share. These employers employ a labor workforce that consists of low-wage workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout of this pandemic, with nearly half reporting challenges paying their bills and roughly a third having trouble paying their rent or mortgage.
A study conducted by the Brookings Institution also found that these top, publicly traded retailers have seen a 40% increase in profit averaging $16.7 billion in extra profit in 2020, while their stock prices increased by an average of 33%. Although these inequalities have been exposed and are out in the open for us to finally discuss and address, this public health crisis and the economic unraveling have widened the already deep divide between low-wage frontline workers and their employers and shareholders.
The passage of today’s motion directs County Counsel, in consultation and collaboration with other relevant County departments, to deliver a written report to the Board, prior to January 26 Board meeting, with a draft urgency ordinance that requires grocery and drug retail stores located in unincorporated areas of the County, that are publicly traded or have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store site, pay all of their workers an additional $5 per hour in wage, to sunset in 120 days.
The motion also directs County Counsel to advise the Board whether such an urgency ordinance can also apply to incorporated areas of the County.
To view the motion, click here.
CONTACT: Kimberly Ortega, Acting Communications Director, (213) 361-6435 or KOrtega@bos.lacounty.gov