MONTEBELLO (CBSLA) – The city of Montebello has been sued over a controversial ordinance which it passed last week giving grocery and drug store workers a $4 per hour pay increase due to the hazards they face during the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman gestures in support of supermarket workers holding placards in protest in front of a Food 4 Less supermarket in Long Beach, Calif., on Feb. 3, 2021, after a decision by owner Kroger to close two supermarkets rather than pay workers an additional $4.00 in “hazard pay” for their continued work during the coronavirus pandemic. (Getty Images)

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the California Grocer’s Association, a trade group which represents hundreds of grocery stores statewide. It alleges that the pay hike will create labor costs too high for grocery stores to afford, forcing them to either raise prices, cut worker hours or close.

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It also argues the hazard pay ordinance is illegal because it singles out grocers but ignores “other groups that employ essential frontline workers,” CGA said.

Last week, the Montebello City Council unanimously approved an ordinance which requires grocery and pharmacy store chains with at least 300 employees nationwide to give their workers a $4 per hour “hero pay” increase for at least the next 180 days.

The city of Long Beach passed a similar law earlier in January and has also been sued by the CGA.

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On Monday, grocery giant Kroger announced that it was closing two stores in Long Beach – a Ralphs and Food 4 Less – in response to the passage of the hazard pay law there.

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Also Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to move ahead with a $5 per hour hazard pay increase for workers at large grocery stores and pharmacy retailers. The vote called on the city attorney to prepare an ordinance that it can then give final approval to.

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The city of Oakland also approved a $5 hazard pay increase for its grocery store workers this week. It’s being sued by the CGA as well.