OC Register Editorial: ‘Hero pay’ proposals will lead to unintended consequences

‘Hero pay’ proposals will lead to unintended consequences


Published in The Orange County Register on February 13, 2021

We’re not sure why people were shocked by the predictable outcome of Long Beach’s decision to dramatically boost the hourly pay of grocery workers during the pandemic. After the vote, Kroger announced the shuttering of “long-struggling” Ralphs and Food 4 Less locations.

That mandate ends up hurting hourly workers and the customers who relied on those stores to buy groceries.

Long Beach is one of several California cities to pass “hero pay” ordinances that temporarily boost wages by at least $4 an hour for frontline workers. Even as the state loosens its COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, city councils are adopting these measures on an emergency basis. They mainly are union-backed efforts to circumvent minimum-wage laws.

Oakland officials argued that the pay rules are necessary to protect the vital food-supply chain by ensuring a stable work force. This may be news to Oakland officials, but the pandemic has been raging for nearly a year. Despite early supply chain problems with toilet paper and few other staples, grocery stores and their workers have handled the crisis with remarkable acumen.

View the full editorial in The Orange County Register.