[guest post by JVW]
When gross pandering meets fiscal irresponsibility:
Grocery and retail drugstore employees who work in unincorporated Los Angeles County could see a pay bump of $5 an hour if the county Board of Supervisors approves a “hero pay” ordinance later this month.
The measure was quickly opposed by grocery industry leaders, who said it could require stores to raise prices at a time when their customers are struggling to make ends meet.
At the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell put forth the motion that would mandate the pay bump for publicly traded grocery store or retail drug companies, or companies that have at least 300 employees nationwide and have more than 10 employees per store site. If approved by the board, the ordinance would remain in effect for 120 days.
“While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with the approval and administration of the vaccine, the health threats these workers face are as real as they were at the beginning of the pandemic given the surge of cases in our county,” said board chair Solis in a statement. “It is imperative that we act with urgency to support just compensation for grocery and drug retail employees.”
Note that this applies to unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, presumably because incorporated cities are not under the thumb of our hypocritical and overcompensated supervisors. But unincorporated areas include a whole lot of low-income communities within the Los Angeles Basin, which if they have grocery stores and pharmacies probably aren’t so flush with cash that the extra $200 per week per worker is particularly affordable. The supervisors adopt the progressive argument that these stores are part of large chains which are reportedly doing very well business-wise during the pandemic, and that while providing modest pay raises and one-off bonuses during the spring and summer, on balance they haven’t done nearly enough for their workers. So it’s pretty easy for the supes to freely spend the corporations’ money, and you can be sure they will react with puzzled outrage when the corporations respond by closing up stores in those areas thus creating the so-called “food deserts” that plague lower income neighborhoods across America. For what it’s worth, the left-wing city councils of Los Angeles and Long Beach are considering imposing similar wage edicts for their chain supermarkets and pharmacies.
If the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors were really interested in rewarding those who heroically stayed on the job and served the public, they could pay out higher wages and bonuses to the drivers of Los Angeles County Metro Transit Authority buses and trains, who after all are actually employed by the county. But of course to do that the supervisors would have to dip into their own bloated budget to find the funding for this windfall, and heaven knows that would require the supes to make cuts to other county programs. It turns out that it is a hell of a lot easier for them to demand that the private sector reward its employees than it is for the supes to scrape together the funds to reward their own.