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San Francisco proposes hazard pay for grocery workers

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Hazard pay could come to grocery stores and pharmacy workers in San Francisco as soon as next week.

The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Shamann Walton, proposed an additional $5 dollars per hour and would benefit employees making less than $35 dollars per hour.

If passed, this law would apply to big chain stores only and would also include janitorial and security contractors whose employees work at these sites.

Fellow city supervisor, Dean Preston, says he’s in support of the legislation.

“People have been in this for a long time and it hasn’t gotten any easier. Just the stress alone you know? Not to mention to risks to their physical health and safety, but just the stress of being out there working through the entire pandemic, even during the surge.”

The proposed legislation targets stores with more than 500 employees worldwide. And at least 20 in the city.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that we need the government to step in to get big employers to step in by their employees, but this is an emergency ordinance. It would just apply for a 60 day period,” Preston said.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union say this is something they’ve been fighting for across the country.

Their local chapters 5 and 648 represent San Francisco grocery workers.

In a statement to KRON4 news, director of strategic campaigns for Local 5, James Araby said:

“If passed, the city of San Francisco will join the growing number of cities in California who are making large corporate retailers do what they should do voluntarily, paying these workers fairly for the significant risks that they are taking. Grocery workers are much more likely to contract COVID at their workplace (2,000 UFCW members in the Bay Area have contracted it. And instead of putting some of the profits, these companies have made in the pandemic back in the pockets of their workers, they are putting the money into pockets of shareholders and executives.”

If passed, San Francisco would join other Bay Area cities including Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro and Santa Clara that enacted similar ordinances.

The city’s government audit oversight committee will hear the legislation on Thursday.

If approved there, it will go to the full board for a vote on March 9th.

As an emergency ordinance, it requires at least eight votes to pass and would go into effect immediately.

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