New California bill could force stores to close self-checkout

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California lawmakers are considering a new bill that could force stores to close self-checkout lanes.

Senate Bill 1446 would prohibit grocery stores or retail drug stores from offering self-checkout options unless all of the following conditions are met:

  • Checkouts are limited to 10 items or less
  • At least one manual staffed checkout station is available
  • Customers are prohibited from purchasing certain items
  • An employee can only monitor up to two self-service stations
  • Employee is relieved from all other duties while monitoring

It also requires stores that employ artificial intelligence to complete an assessment before implementing the technology.

"This act will protect workers and the public by ensuring safe staffing levels at grocery and drug stores and regulating self-checkout machines in a way that’s being smart on crime," said Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles.

Letizia Costa, who manages multiple self-checkouts at a Lucky's in Pinole, supports the bill.

"I have also observed customers who just walk through the self-checkout area when there are no workers and they just walk out with their items," Costa said.

Costa on Monday joined Smallwood-Cuevas for a virtual press conference about the bill. Costa said in February she saw three women stealing items, so she called 911. But the suspects turned around and attacked her.

"Because of this incident, I'm terrified to report any incidents of theft," she said. "This bill will ensure that grocery stores are properly staffed."

The proposed law would require employees monitoring self-checkout to be solely focused on that task and not asked to do anything else.

The bill has the support of the UFCW union and other labor groups. However, several groups oppose it, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Retailers Association, who said the bill does not do enough to protect employees and customers.

"Instead, we’re supporting a package of bills that is being introduced and supported by the governor…that really is a comprehensive approach to address the issue of retail theft," California Retailers Association CEO Rachel Michelin said. "It includes going after and providing consequences to serial shop lifters and goes after boosters who are selling stolen goods."

California lawmakers on Monday will consider a new bill that could force stores to close self-checkout lanes. Ginger Conejero Saab reports.

The discussion comes as cities across the state have faced backlash due to brazen thefts at grocery stores and pharmacies.

In San Francisco, a woman was caught stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods at different Target locations.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that 43-year-old Aziza Graves was convicted of one felony count of grand theft and 52 misdemeanor counts of petty theft with thefts related to ones at the Stonestown Target. She was also convicted of misdemeanor petty theft for one at Abercrombie.

Graves faces more than three years in state prison. She is currently out of custody.

SB 1446 is in the Appropriations Committee in Sacramento, where it is examined before it can head to the Senate floor.

It could take customers longer to check out after some grocery stores and retailers are revising their self-checkout strategies or doing away with the registers altogether. Gia Vang reports.
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