Fresno City Council to consider 'hazard pay' for grocery store employees

Grocery store workers would receive hazard pay in the form of an extra $3 an hour for 120 days under the plan.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Grocery store workers would receive hazard pay in the form of an extra $3 an hour for 120 days under a plan Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez will introduce next Thursday.

Chavez says the dozen grocery stores in his district have been hit hard by COVID-19.

"Grocery stores can have the potential to be these petri dishes in the middle of our community and I saw my district go through that quite horribly with the zip codes that I represent being hot spots," he says.

But the California Grocers Association calls the proposal irresponsible and one which could lead to unintended consequences.

"Grocery store owners will have to make some tough decisions. One is closing stores. The second to pass on these new wage increases onto the consumer by raising prices," says California Grocers Association CEO Ron Fong.

The association has filed lawsuits in some cities which have adopted hazard pay but has yet to look over the Fresno ordinance.

"I am pro-business but I am also pro-employee. They're not mutually exclusive. When you have grocery companies raking in record profits, millions of dollars, that's great but the recognition should also be in sharing that with employees," Chavez says.

Councilmember Garry Bredefeld also takes issue with the plan.

"This is about dictating to the private sector what they should be paying their workers and for how long and where does this slippery slope go? And if one group is getting extra pay, why not the other group?" he says.

Chavez says his push for hazard pay came out of concerns raised by grocery store workers in southeast Fresno.
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