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COVID Workers: San Francisco Supervisors Urge $5 Hazard Pay Bonus To Grocery Store Employees

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution urging large chain grocery stores to raise hourly wages for employees by $5 during the pandemic.

The additional $5 in hazard pay would last through the duration of the period that the city remains in the Purple, Red or Orange levels on the state's COVID-19 tiered system for counties.

Supervisor Shamann Walton, who authored the non-binding resolution, stressed it is for large grocery store chains and not smaller "mom and pop" grocers.

The resolution was crafted with help from the United Food Commercial Workers Local 648 and Local 5 and aims to further support grocery store workers, who have provided food and other essentials throughout the pandemic.

In Los Angeles, supervisors there approved a similar measure Tuesday.

But, according to the Sacramento-based California Grocers Association, raising wages for just grocery store workers could have harmful impacts.

Since the pandemic began nine months ago, large chain grocery stores have invested significantly in its employees, already providing them with extra pay and benefits, as well as increased cleaning and safety protocols, the association said. Furthermore, mandating extra pay for the workers by local governments would drive up the cost of groceries and harm smaller grocery stores.

"These extra pay mandates will not do anything to make grocery workers or customers any safer," California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong said in a statement. "Rather, there will be significant potential negative consequences and would likely result in higher costs for groceries that disproportionately hurts low-income families, seniors, and disadvantaged communities already struggling financially. These proposals could also harm grocery workers themselves if stores are forced to reduce jobs or hours for employees due to higher costs."

Fong added, "It doesn't make sense to single out grocery stores for these extra pay proposals when there are many other professions and industries similarly providing essential services. A vote on these knee jerk proposals without conducting an economic analysis is premature. Local communities must take the time to carefully study the potential negative impacts for workers, families and businesses."

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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