L.A. and Long Beach want ‘hero pay’ for some workers but not others
BY: LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
Published in the Los Angeles Times on January 19, 2021
Elected officials in Los Angeles, Long Beach and other California communities have declared that they want to honor essential workers by requiring employers to provide up to $5 an hour in supplemental “hero pay” for the next several months. But not all essential workers are heroes in eyes of local lawmakers, apparently, as the proposals would exclude the vast majority of front-line employees.
The notion is catching on. The Santa Monica City Council voted last week to require “hero pay,” and Long Beach leaders are expected to vote on a similar proposal this week. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize its version this month. A number of other jurisdictions, including the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Ana, have raised the idea, too.
The proposals vary slightly, but they generally would require large supermarkets and drugstores to provide $4 to $5 an hour extra in hazard pay for on-site employees. The bonus payments would continue for 120 days or until the jurisdiction’s health risk is considered minimal.
Why does it make sense for the government to single out one sector for special treatment? In fact, it’s not even a uniform mandate on grocery and drugstore workers. The various proposals would affect only publicly traded chain stores or those with more than 300 employees.