San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency ordinance to temporarily raise wages by $5 per hour for some grocery and retail workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, the emergency ordinance calling for the additional hazard pay is urgently needed to further support the city’s essential workers, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus as they can’t work from home and often work indoors and serve a variety of customers on a daily basis.
“Our essential grocery workers are often paid minimum wage and are expected to take high risks by constant exposure to the public. While we have protocols in place to wear a mask, stay 6-feet apart, and stay home if you’re sick, we know these protocols are not always followed by the public,” Walton said in a statement. “This emergency ordinance compensates grocery workers and drug store workers who have had heightened exposure throughout this pandemic by working to survive.”
The hazard pay mandate would only apply to retail and grocery store locations with pharmacies that have at least 20 employees and 500 or more employees worldwide. The raise will only apply to workers who make less than $35 an hour or less than $75,000 annually.
The ordinance was crafted with input from the labor unions United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 5 and United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 648.
“These workers have sacrificed their health and safety to ensure that our food and other essential needs have been met throughout this pandemic. While case numbers have decreased and vaccinations are going up, many workers still have risks bringing COVID home and passing this hazard pay will reward them for continuing to take this risk,” UFCW Local 5 Strategic and Political Director Jim Araby said.
“The passage of this ordinance highlights the dangerous conditions that our grocery and drug workers face every day,” UFECW Local 648 President Dan Larson said.
Other Bay Area cities have enacted a similar $5 hazard pay wage increase for grocery store workers, including Oakland, San Mateo, Daly City, South San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Leandro, and Berkeley.
The Sacramento-based California Grocers Association has said wage hikes for grocery store workers could have harmful consequences, potentially resulting in lost jobs or hours for workers and higher food prices at smaller stores. Last month, the association filed separate lawsuits against the cities of Oakland and San Leandro, alleging the mandated hazard pay raises are unlawful.
The California Grocers Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.