Berkeley City Council Unanimously Passes CM Taplin’s Hazard Pay for Grocery Store Workers

February 24, 2021
BERKELEY, CA — On February 23rd, the Berkeley City Council enacted the Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers Ordinance, which requires Hazard Pay in the amount of $5 per hour for grocery workers in Berkeley, effective immediately, in grocery stores that employ 300 or more workers in California. The requirement will remain in effect until Berkeley’s COVID-19 case positivity rate falls below 2% (equivalent to the state’s Yellow Tier) or for 120 days, whichever is sooner.  

Employers who are already voluntarily providing additional compensation equivalent to Hazard Pay may use the hourly rate of that additional compensation to offset the amount due under the Ordinance (e.g., an employer who is already paying $2 per hour above baseline compensation owes an additional $3 per hour in Hazard Pay). Employers will be required to provide notice to grocery workers of the rights set forth in the Ordinance once the final text of the Ordinance becomes available.

“I am proud that Berkeley has joined numerous other California cities in guaranteeing that grocery store employees are compensated in a way that reflects the dangers they undergo every day to provide a critical service to our community,” said Councilmember Terry Taplin (District 2). “It’s one thing to go outside and clap for essential workers, it’s another to back up our gratitude with supportive legislation.”

“Latinxs Unidxs de Berkeley is so glad to hear that the City Council voted in support of hazard pay for our grocery store workers who are largely made up of Black and Brown individuals,” said Héctor Malvido, Co-Chair of Latinxs Unidxs de Berkeley. “Even though they make up an essential part of our COVID-19 frontline workers, helping to keep our families fed during this pandemic, they continue to risk their lives for very little pay, all while corporate grocers have been making record-breaking profits.”

“As corporate grocery stores collected record profits in the past year, grocery workers have taken on all of the risk and seen little of the reward,” said Jim Araby, Director of Strategic Campaigns for UFCW Local 5. “UFCW Local 5 applauds the important step taken by the Berkeley City Council last night to justly compensate grocery store workers in this moment of sustained crisis.”

“We can thank Councilmember Taplin’s leadership for ensuring that hundreds of grocery workers who have literally given their lives to keep families fed will receive the hazard pay they deserve,” said Liz Ortega-Toro, Executive-Secretary Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. “Political speeches about ‘essential workers’ are meaningless unless they are followed with a real reward for these workers.”