Grocery workers deserve hero pay for working in hazardous conditions

Grocery store employees deserve to have hero pay for working throughout the pandemic.

Brian Gallegos

Grocery store employees deserve to have hero pay for working throughout the pandemic.

Richard Ho, Staff Writer

Hero pay, also known as hazard pay, is a bonus pay that boosts grocery workers’ salaries during the pandemic due to hazardous conditions of their workplace. 

Grocery store workers and their respective unions have rightfully been advocating for hero pay because they are endangering their lives to support their communities. 

Los Angeles and Long Beach counties have imposed similar hero pay mandates because they acknowledge that essential workers are frontline workers and risking their lives to support their communities. 

Grocery stores are considered as hazardous workplaces during the pandemic because there is a higher risk of transmission towards essential workers. However, some grocery store companies are wary of a hero pay mandate because it would raise their labor costs and reduce their profits. 

Hero pay mandates should be imposed to give financial relief for essential workers and to recognize them for providing support for our community.

Grocery workers are risking their life for working in their grocery store to provide food for their community. Grocery workers’ unions favor the hazard or hero pay for the essential workers because they believe companies to acknowledge their essential employees imperiling their lives for their families at home. 

Since the initial rise of the pandemic last year, some grocery stores voluntarily increased their essential workers’ salaries for hazard pay until the cases started to spike or suspended the hazard pay for financial reasons. 

Grocery workers are struggling to pay their living expenses during a pandemic. This financial burden forces essential workers to protest for hero pay because they have risked their lives for their community. 

Grocery stores are hazardous workplace imperiling grocery workers’ health and they deserve to have hero pay for serving our community as frontline workers throughout the pandemic. 

Protest demonstrations for hero pay mandates from workers’ unions have made headlines and made us feel sympathetic to the essential workers risking their lives for supporting our communities. 

The Long Beach hero pay mandate had been suspended on Jan. 21 due to a lawsuit from  the California Grocers Association, which represents grocery stores companies. 

Grocery stores argued that the mandate was unconstitutional because their definition of essential workers includes doctors, nurses, restaurant workers and sanitation workers. 

However, the judges ruled the California Grocers Association(CGA) failed to provide a high burden of proof to suspend the Long Beach hero pay mandate for supermarket workers on Feb. 25. 

Even though the CGA appealed the ruling to the U.S. 9th District Circuit Appeals Court, Long Beach City Council recognized their grocery workers are frontline workers risking their lives to provide food for their community.

Despite Long Beach becoming the first city to enforce the hero pay mandate and being sued by  the CGA, the landmark ruling of keeping the hero pay mandate in Long Beach paves way for other cities on enforcing their similar mandates. 

Cities should impose a hero pay mandate for grocery workers because they are risking their lives to provide food for our community in a hazardous workplace.

Richard Ho is a staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle. He is currently a junior computer science major and mathematics minor. Richard is considering applying to graduate school with the emphasis of artificial intelligence next year.  During his free time, he enjoys running outside early in the morning and being with his family.