San Jose to Require Hazard Pay for Workers at Large Grocery Retailers

NBC Universal, Inc.

San Jose city leaders on Tuesday night approved a mandatory $3-per-hour raise for grocery workers at large chain supermarkets and retailers that sell groceries, calling it hazard pay for such essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The City Council voted 7-3 in favor of the hazard pay ordinance, according to the Mercury News, but it won't take effect for two months because it did not get the support of at least eight council members.

The ordinance will expire 120 days after it takes effect, the newspaper reported. Small businesses and franchises with fewer than 300 employees are exempt.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and council members Dev Davis and Matt Mahan voted against the ordinance over concerns about the financial effects on the stores and potentially higher consumer prices, according to the Mercury News. Councilwoman Pam Foley recused herself because she holds stock in Amazon, the owner of Whole Foods.

San Jose will join the cities of Oakland, Long Beach, Santa Monica and Seattle with hazard pay ordinances.

Later this month, Santa Clara County leaders are set to vote on a $5-an-hour pay hike for workers in large grocery stores and fast-food restaurants across the county, with the exception of San Jose.

The California Grocers Association last week sued Oakland a day after the city leaders there voted for the $5-an-hour hazard pay, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a November report from CNBC, citing an analysis from the Brookings Institute, top retailers saw 2020 profits soar by an average of 39% over the previous year while pay for their workers rose by an average of 10%.

The Brookings analysis studied earnings and employee compensation at large chain retailers Albertsons, Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Home Depot, Kroger, Target and Walmart from March to November.

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