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California Grocers Association Sues Over Grocery Hazard Pay Ordinances In Daly City, San Jose

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A trade group representing California grocery stores has filed lawsuits against San Jose and Daly City after requiring large grocers to offer hazard pay to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the California Grocers Association filed the challenges in federal court. The group claims that the measures are unconstitutional, violate the National Labor Relations Act and would raise the cost of groceries.

"In addition to clearly violating federal and state law, the extra pay mandates will harm customers and workers," Ron Fong, president & CEO of the California Grocers Association said in a statement.

"A $5/hour mandate amounts to a 28 percent average increase in labor costs for grocery stores. That is too big a cost increase for any grocery retailer to absorb without consequence," Fong went on to say.

Earlier this week, Daly City approved its hazard pay ordinance, requiring grocery and drug stores in the city that are at least 10,000 square feet and which employ at least 500 employees nationwide to pay non-managerial workers an extra $5 an hour for at least 120 days. The ordinance also provides employees four hours of paid leave to be vaccinated.

Last month, the San Jose City Council approved a $3/hour hazard pay ordinance to workers at large grocery stores and retail stores that sell food. The ordinance is not slated to take effect until April.

Councilmember Sergio Jimenez, who introduced the legislation, said at the time because grocery store employees are more at risk of contracting COVID-19, they should be compensated for their sacrifices to provide essential services to the community.

"Alongside doctors and nurses, retail food workers have served the residents of San José while taking on tremendous risks," Jimenez said in a statement on his Facebook page. "Hazard pay is necessary to justly compensate retail food workers for the clear and present dangers of doing their jobs during the pandemic, ensure the welfare of workers, and continue stable operation of our much-needed food supply chain."

The Grocers Association has already filed challenges to similar hazard pay ordinances approved in Oakland, San Leandro, along with Long Beach, Montebello and West Hollywood in Southern California.

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