LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A federal judge Thursday denied the California Grocers Association’s bid to temporarily overturn a Long Beach ordinance mandating an additional $4 in hourly pay for grocery store employees during the pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Los Angeles, alleged that the Jan. 19 ordinance was illegal because it singles out grocery stores while ignoring other groups that employ essential frontline workers thus violating the constitutional requirement that similarly situated people must be treated alike. The CGA also argued that the ordinance was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.
“Grocery store workers are frontline heroes, and that’s why grocers have already undertaken a massive effort to institute measures to make both workers and customers safer in stores,” Ron Fong, the CGA’s president and CEO, said when the suit was filed. “But this ordinance is clearly illegal in that it interferes with the collective-bargaining process and singles out only certain grocers while ignoring other retail workers and workers in other industries providing essential services during the pandemic.”
Fong said that firefighters, police officers and healthcare workers, as well as transportation, sanitation and restaurant workers, were also essential, “yet grocers are the only businesses being targeted for extra pay mandates. We look forward to our day in court to contest the legality of this ordinance.”
Ultimately Judge Otis D. Wright II concluded that the CGA failed to establish a likelihood of success on its claims and denied the association’s request.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to preliminarily approve an emergency ordinance to require large grocery and pharmacy retailers to offer employees an additional $5 per hour in hazard pay. A final vote is expected next week.
The vote came the day after the L.A. County Board of Supervisors adopted its emergency ordinance to require a $5 per hour pay bump for national grocery and drug retail employees in unincorporated areas of the county.
The CGA has also filed suits against West Hollywood and Montebello, seeking the declare hazard pay mandated by those cities as invalid and unconstitutional.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)