"Hero Pay" Mandate for SM Grocery Workers $5 Hourly Pay Increase Will Last 120 Days
March 18, 2021
By Jack Simon
Santa Monica grocery and drug store workers will receive a temporary $5 hourly pay increase for 120 days as the City Council approved on Tuesday night a “hero pay” ordinance for essential workers in the city.
The ordinance, modeled after the recently-passed Los Angeles County measure, mandates the pay raise for publicly-traded grocery store or retail drug companies and retail companies that have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store site.
The ‘hero pay” mandate will go into effect immediately but businesses have a “grace period through April 12 for any liability resulting from nonpayment,” city officials said. The mandate lasts 120 days.
In the past few months, many cities across California have adopted “hero pay” ordinances requiring between $4 and $5 in additional hourly pay for frontline grocery or drug retail workers who, as essential workers, are required to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those cities include West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Oakland, Irvine, Berkeley, Irvine, Montebello and Long Beach.
But the mandate in Long Beach didn’t sit well with Kroger Co. which announced it will close on April 17 two supermarkets – one Ralphs and a Food for Less -- in that city as a direct response to the city’s ordinance, which requires a “hero pay” of $4 an hour for 120-days.
The Santa Monica Council first discussed an emergency “hero pay” ordinance on January 12, a week after the County Board of Supervisors raised the issue to reward essential workers for their service during the pandemic. The Council directed staff to draft a measure which mirrors the provisions of the proposed county ordinance, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors on February 23.
City officials said the “hero pay” ordinance “ensures that grocery and drug retail workers are compensated for the substantial risks, efforts, and expenses they have been undertaking and continue to undertake to provide essential services in a safe and reliable manner during the COVID-19 emergency.”
“I am honored to vote for it,” said Councilman Phil Brock, who mentioned that his father worked for the old Market Basket chain in Santa Monica more than 30 years.