Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)

Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law requiring grocery stores to give their workers an additional $5 per hour hazard pay until June 15.

The Board of Supervisors voted in March to require grocery and drug stores with at least 500 employees to pay their workers an additional $5 per hour. The law went into effect on March 20, but the requirement expires on May 19.

Now Board President Shamann Walton, who introduced the initial law, is proposing to extend the hazard pay until June 15.

The proposal appears likely to pass, despite opposition from the grocery industry. The board’s Government Audit and Oversight Committee unanimously approved the extension Thursday and the full board is slated to vote on it Tuesday.

Natalie Gee, Walton’s chief of staff, said the new date was chosen “to align with the state’s plans to reopen the economy.”

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom set a goal of lifting the color-coded tier system on June 15 and “opening up this economy.”

The grocery industry, which opposed the initial law, argued that since San Francisco moved into the state’s least restrictive COVID-19 yellow tier this week there is no longer a justification for hazard pay. The yellow tier is assigned to counties when the risk of the spread of the virus is minimal.

“There is no further need to extend this ordinance,” said Aaron Stone, an owner of Mollie Stone’s Markets. “There is no hazard. All of our employees have been vaccinated with the exception of a few that chose not to do it.”

But Gee said, “There’s still a risk of working in the store where you are exposed to the public on a daily basis.”

She said there is more time needed for San Franciscans to get fully vaccinated. Fifty-one percent of residents of those aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated. And she noted that surrounding Bay Area counties remain in the orange tier.

Claire Courtney, an organizer with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, which represents grocery workers, said, “This pandemic, while we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is so far from over.”

Courtney said that the grocer’s “absurd profits” gained during the pandemic are “not trickling down to their workers” and that the law was needed to “make sure that they are doing the right thing.”

“They aren’t going to increase wages once this hazard pay is away,” Courtney said. “And these workers need these increased wages.”

Bay Area NewsCoronavirusPoliticssan francisco news

Just Posted

Epic Cleantec uses soil mixed with treated wastewater solids to plants at the company’s demonstration garden in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Epic Cleantec)
This startup watches what SF flushes – and grows food with it

Epic Cleantec saves millions of gallons of water a year, and helps companies adhere to drought regulations

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the U.S. (Shutterstock)
Why California teens need mental illness education

SB 224 calls for in-school mental health instruction as depression and suicide rates rise

Ahmad Ibrahim Moss, a Lyft driver whose pandemic-related unemployment benefits have stopped, is driving again and relying on public assistance to help make ends meet. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
How much does gig work cost taxpayers?

Some drivers and labor experts say Prop. 22 pushed an undue burden on to everyday taxpayers.

Affordable housing has become the chief expense for most California students, such as those attending community college in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
California commits $500 million more to student housing

Called ‘a drop in the bucket,’ though $2 billion could be made available in future years

Most Read