retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times this morning reports that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to mandate that publicly traded supermarkets and drug store chains must pay their store employees $5 per hour in extra hazard pay for the next 120 days.  The mandate will apply to some 2,500 workers.

The bump also applies to "companies that have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store site. The measure applies only to unincorporated areas … which includes portions of South L.A. and much of northern L.A. County. Many of the 88 cities in the county do not have measures, meaning a worker can live in one city with a mandate but work in another without it."

The Times writes that "since January, several cities, including Santa Monica, San Jose, Berkeley and West Hollywood, have considered or passed some level of hazard pay mandates.

"The county’s ordinance will probably be challenged in court in the coming days by the California Grocers Assn., which has sued the city of Long Beach after it passed its 'hero pay' measure."

Both Long Beach, California, and Seattle have passed hazard pay mandates, to which kroger responded by closing two under-performing stores in each city, saying that the legislation made the units untenable.

KC's View:

I've been arguing from the beginning that singling out one sector is  poor public policy, but now one has to wonder the degree to which retailers are going to start cutting back hours and reducing services, or even closing more stores - all of which will end up with people either unemployed or under-employed.  Cannot imagine that will be good for the communities that these mandates are affecting.

These mandates strike me as knee-jerk responses to the current situation.