It’s merely a non-binding resolution “urging” grocery stores to give their workers a $5 per hour raise, but the stores are expected to foot the bill.
Your latest trip to the toilet paper aisle likely made it clear than panic buying is still very much in effect. Meanwhile, grocery store workers have to contend with Covidiot anti-maskers getting in their faces, and of course, these employees face much higher risk of infection to the virus for their minimum wage efforts. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors hopes to legislate some sort of bonus for these beleaguered essential workers, as KGO reports the supes are considering a law to add an extra $5 an hour hazard pay for the duration of the city remaining in the purple, red, or orange tier of COVID-19 restrictions.
The legislation from Sup. Shamann Walton has nine co-sponsors, so it is likely to pass. “Essential grocery workers continue to live with the daily fear of not only contracting the virus but also bringing it home to their families,” the bill says. “The City and County of San Francisco recognizes that essential grocery 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 at all times that the City is at a coronavirus risk level of moderate, substantial, or widespread under the State Health orders.”
When Sup. Walton was drafting the legislation in mid-December, 48 Hills spoke with UFCW 5 spokesperson Jim Araby about grocery workers’ risk level. “We’ve had 700 members get COVID at work, and five have died,” Araby told 48 Hills. “The workers are taking huge risks here, and the stores aren’t sharing the profits.”
For that reason, this legislation does not apply to your local corner produce market, but instead to “Grocery Stores that are considered Formula Retail Establishments in San Francisco,” that is, those that “have at least 40 locations nationwide.”
But the legislation does not provide that extra $5 an hour, it requires the stores to pay it "Some of those [unintended] consequences could be first of all the effect of passing these costs on to our consumers through food prices," California Grocers Association president Ron Fong told KGO. "When you mandate a 30-percent price, labor increase we have to pass that on to somebody."
But they don’t actually have to. The legislation is merely “urging” stores to pay the bonus, it is not required, as it is in Los Angeles County’s proposed “hero pay” bill. In other words, the unsung heroes are likely to remain unsung.
Related: Hey Chatty Cathys: Talking To Strangers In Grocery Stores Helps Spread COVID [SFist]
Image: @atoms via Unsplash