CGA Praises Tentative Ruling on L.A. Grocery Worker Retention Ordinance

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Grocers Association (CGA) last week expressed its support for the tentative ruling by Judge Ralph W. Dau of the Los Angeles County Superior Court that found the City of Los Angeles' Grocery Worker Retention Ordinance to be void.

The ordinance was the first attempt in United States to require certain supermarket retailers to keep workers on when a store changes ownership, the trade group said. Judge Dau's ruling will become the final decision of the trial court unless any party raises controverted issues or proposes modifications by Nov. 5, CGA said.

"Since the Grocery Worker Retention Ordinance has been in effect, sales of grocery stores from one operator to another in the City of Los Angeles have ceased," noted CGA president Peter Larkin. "Stopping the growth of new retail in the city demonstrates the first of many harmful impacts this law will have on city residents. We have believed all along that the ordinance is unlawful and unenforceable because it is preempted by federal labor relations laws, violates the equal protection rights of employers, conflicts with state food-related health and safety laws, and improperly dictates rules of employment."

Judge Dau found the ordinance to be void on two bases: The ordinance conflicts with statewide food safety and food handler laws and is therefore preempted by the California Retail Food Code, and the ordinance’s discrimination between grocery stores according to size and on whether they have a collective bargaining agreement with a union is an impermissible distinction, and thus violates the equal protection guarantees of the state and federal constitutions.

CGA represents over 500 retail members operating more than 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, and about 200 grocery supplier companies. Retail membership includes chain and independent supermarkets, convenience stores, and mass merchandisers.

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