Long Beach forces grocers to pay $4 ‘hero pay’ premium to workers, 2 stores close in response

By placing their warped sense of moral values above all else, Democrats in California continue to prove to the nation that they have little respect for other people’s money or any concept of what it takes to run a business.

In an egregious assault on small businesses, the city of Long Beach recently imposed an ordinance establishing premium pay for grocery workers. Deemed “hero pay,” the law forces grocery stores to pay an additional $4 per hour to its employees, which the city considers essential frontline workers in the pandemic.

The law requires businesses with at least 300 employees nationwide or more than 15 employees per grocery store in Long Beach to pay workers an additional $4 per hour for at least 120 days, KTLA 5 reported.

Mayor Robert Garcia, a Democrat, took to social media to tout signing the measure that shows little regard for the impact on business owners, telling grocery workers: “You have earned this hero pay. Thank you for your hard work.”

In a not so surprising move, Kroger, the parent company of Ralphs and Food 4 Less, announced it will shut down two of its “long-struggling” Long Beach stores due to the city’s “misguided action.”

“As a result of the City of Long Beach’s decision to pass an ordinance mandating Extra Pay for grocery workers, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close long-struggling store locations in Long Beach,” a Kroger spokesperson said in a news release, according to KTLA. “This misguided action by the Long Beach City Council oversteps the traditional bargaining process and applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city.”

The irony being that the ordinance claims the heavy-handed decision “promotes job retention.”

According to the language in the ordinance, the premium pay requirement “protects public health, supports stable incomes, and promotes job retention by ensuring that grocery workers are compensated for the substantial risks, efforts, and expenses they are undertaking to provide essential services in a safe and reliable manner during the COVID-19 emergency.”

The law further states that grocers cannot reduce workers’ compensation during this time, or “limit their earning capacity.”

Mayor Garcia responded to the news of the store closures by attacking the company for “making record profits.”

“We go to court this month and we will defend the workers vigorously,” he tweeted.

It’s not like Kroger wasn’t being a good corporate neighbor, having  issued a $2 pay increase early on in the pandemic, the CW-affiliated TV station said, noting that the company ” has already spent about $1.3 billion to reward associates and implement dozens of coronavirus-related safety measures since March, when the virus’ spread began accelerating in the U.S.”

Paid emergency leave is another benefit that is available to Kroger employees during the pandemic.

The California Grocers Association filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of the measure, asking a federal court to declare the premium pay requirement invalid and unconstitutional, arguing that it violates federal collective bargaining rules.

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Tom Tillison

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