Coachella City Council mulls $4 per hour ‘hero pay’ for farmworkers

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Farmworkers, separated by newly-installed vinyl curtains to help protect from the spread of the coronavirus, harvest field pack romaine hearts in May. (Gary Coronado/Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Farmworkers, separated by newly-installed vinyl curtains to help protect from the spread of the coronavirus, harvest field pack romaine hearts in May. (Gary Coronado/Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The city of Coachella is considering adopting hazard pay for some retail and food workers, including those at grocery stores, restaurants and farms. The city’s mayor said the ordinance, if passed, would be the first in the nation to offer a pandemic pay bump to farmworkers.

The ordinance would require agricultural operations, grocery stores, restaurants and retail pharmacy stores within the city to provide a $4-per-hour pay boost to their workers for at least four months. The regulation would apply to businesses that employ 300 or more workers nationally, and more than 15 employees in the city. The City Council will vote on the proposal at a meeting later Wednesday.

The move comes as California’s grocery industry mounts an aggressive challenge to hazard pay ordinances, also known as “hero pay,” being introduced across the state, with executives and industry representatives saying the additional pay is unsustainable, even for large grocery chains.

The California Grocers Assn. has sued Long Beach, Oakland and Montebello for approving temporary pay boosts for grocery workers. Kroger, which owns several supermarket chains, announced earlier this month that it would shut down two stores, a Ralphs and Food 4 Less, in response to Long Beach’s hazard pay law.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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