Irvine could be the first Orange County town to approve mandatory hazard payment for food workers at their upcoming Tuesday night meeting after extensive discussion of the Orange County issue.
If approved, all grocery stores in the city spanning over 85,000 square feet would have to give workers a $ 4 an hour raise for the next 120 days. The ordinance also states that businesses cannot reduce working hours or otherwise harm workers to make up the difference.
Mayor Farrah Khan proposed the item in a supplementary agenda released this week. As mayor, Khan is the only council member able to put an item on the agenda himself.
“Millions of these workers across the country have faced new hazards in jobs that were previously not considered dangerous,” Khan said in a letter to the council. “It is critical that we support food and drug retailers on the front lines with hazard payments.”
Similar discussions in the cities of Santa Ana and Costa Mesa have largely stalled amid fears that legal action could be taken against cities approving the measure. Long Beach councilors approved a risk payment measure and were sued in federal court the following day by the California Grocers Association.
The Kroger Company, the parent company of grocery chains like Ralphs and Pay Less, closed several stores in Long Beach. The United Food and Commercial Workers union quickly issued a statement describing the closings as a horror strategy.
“Rather than paying the risk these food workers deserve and deserve, Kroger decided to threaten these workers and community access to food in the midst of a public health crisis,” the union said in a press release on its website.
It remains unclear whether Irvine will be the first to join the Orange County effort. Alderman Larry Agran spoke out in favor of the proposal in a phone call on Friday afternoon with the Voice of OC.
“It only seems fair and right that those who work in difficult jobs in really dangerous conditions should not only be recognized and thanked, but appropriately compensated,” said Agran.
Councilor Tammy Kim said she was still waiting to hear the discussion Tuesday night before making a final decision, but she understood and supported the idea behind supporting the frontline workers.
“You have become a front-line worker. When they first got a job at Ralphs, they didn’t think about being a front-line worker, ”Kim said. “But I also understand the general impact on our residents and what that means. I’m following Long Beach very closely and what’s going on there. “
Councilors Anthony Kuo and Mike Carroll did not respond to requests for comment on Friday night.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @NBiesiada.