Another California City Passes Pay Mandate

Another California City Passes Pay Mandate
Irvine, California approved, via a 3-2 city council vote, a measure calling for an extra $4 per hour of pay for grocery and drug store workers.

Add Irvine, California to the list of cities mandating extra pandemic pay for food retail workers — and risking the ire of grocery store operators.

The Southern California city approved, via a 3-2 city council vote, a measure calling for an extra $4 per hour of pay for grocery and drug store workers. The city’s mayor voted in favor of the plan.

“With the vote, all grocery stores, or pharmaceutical chains with more than 20 employees, that have more than 500 employees and exceed 15,000 square feet in size, will be subject to the hazard pay ordinance,” said the Irvine Weekly. “Currently, there are three cities in Orange County that have considered implementing hero pay. Both Santa Ana and Costa Mesa support the idea.”

As pay mandates spread, consequences are starting to appear. Federal court battles have already started, and Kroger recently contributed the upcoming closers of two stores in Long Beach, California on that town’s pandemic pay mandate.

Kroger, meanwhile, recently unveiled a massive new worker pay initiative, including a $100 bonus for employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The retailer plans to spend at least $50 million more to thank and reward its associates, including offering a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points to its hourly front-line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates. Kroger will also provide a one-time payment of $100 to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That's a total investment of $1.5 billion in fiscal 2020 in rewarding front-line associates since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kroger and other grocery companies have been under pressure to increase employee wages as the pandemic rages on. While some grocers have boosted wages and kept the increases throughout the pandemic, other grocers have allowed those increases to expire. 

Trader Joe’s recently announced that its employees will temporarily receive an extra $2 an hour. That bump is on top of a previous $2 an hour bump employees received at the start of the pandemic. In a letter management wrote to employees, as reported by The Seattle Times, the company cited the recent hazard pay ordinances passed in Seattle and in cities across California in its decision to boost pay for employees.

Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s is No. 28 on the list.

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