LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday gave preliminary approval for an extra $5 per hour in hazard pay for grocery store workers citywide due to the health risks they face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By a 14-1 vote, the council approved the emergency ordinance, which would require all grocery and drug store chains with at least 300 or more employees nationwide to pay their employees an extra $5 per hour. It would stay in place until L.A. County drops down to the yellow and lowest tier of the state’s coronavirus recovery roadmap.
A final vote is set for March 3.
Currently, L.A. County is in the purple and highest tier, which categorizes the virus as widespread. The hazard pay ordinance would remain in place even if L.A. County drops down to red and orange tiers.
This comes one day after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a similar $5 ordinance for all unincorporated areas that will remain in effect through at least the next 120 days.
“I’m glad, at least, we are going to have this but it should be retroactive,” Rite-Aid employee Laura Orantes told CBSLA Wednesday.
Orantes has been working at the same Rite-Aid store in L.A. for more than 30 years. She said she is committed to her job but working during the pandemic has been challenging. She caught COVID-19 last July.
“The headaches, the body aches, fever, cough, loss of smell,” she listed. “It took me a long time to get it back. And nausea until this day, I still have that. You don’t know how it’s going to affect you. So when I got it the first thing I was wondering is if I , among will die.”
The pay hike sparked controversy in Long Beach when retail giant Kroger announced it would be closing two stores in response, a Food 4 Less and a Ralphs, in April.
The Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst for the city of L.A. has released a report about the potential consequences of the hazard pay proposal, saying it could add more pressure to struggling stores, among other issues.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)