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American Rescue Plan Funds Approved for Grocery Hazard Pay in Southern California as Workers Face COVID Delta Variant Surge

July 1, 2021

Grocery Cashier Wearing Mask While Working

Calabasas Becomes Second City in Country to Pass COVID Premium Pay Using American Rescue Plan State and Local Funding, Victory Comes Just Weeks After Oxnard Passed First Such Measure

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 770, the union for over 25,000 grocery and drug retail workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, applauded passage of a new hazard pay measure passed in Southern California. This week, the Calabasas City Council unanimously voted 5-0 to approve a one-time Hazard Pay bonus for current grocery and drug retail workers who have been on the frontlines of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemicClick here to view press release online

The new COVID hazard pay will provide payments of up to $1,000 will be made based on average weekly hours worked from March 2020 to March 2021, and is made possible by funding from President Joe Biden’s recently passed American Rescue Plan. This comes just weeks after Oxnard, CA became the first city in the country to use these funds for hazard pay.

The Calabasas hazard pay will benefit a total of 454 union and non-union workers. Roughly 250 of these employees are UFCW Local 770 members. Throughout the pandemic, grocery and drug store workers have been facing hazardous working conditions that affect their physical and mental health. These essential workers have been tirelessly helping customers to get the food and medications they need. 

California Grocery Worker Maria Altamirano, at Gelson’s in Calabasas: “I’ve been on the frontlines and I have worked overtime to keep the store stocked. As an essential worker, I put my life at risk multiple times. Too many of us have lost someone due to this terrible virus. A little over a month ago, I lost my uncle to Covid even though he was vaccinated. It’s scary to think that I may bring the virus home to my elderly parents who are both cancer survivors. This hazard pay that the city is providing us is a lifeline for essential workers and our families. I’m really grateful that the City of Calabasas council members passed hazard pay.Thank you so much!”

UFCW Local 770 President John Grant: “The City of Calabasas did the right thing. Essential grocery and drug retail workers have demonstrated their commitment and dedication to serve their communities during the worst global pandemic in recent history. We appreciate that the City of Calabasas is moving forward on this gratitude premium pay for our members.” 

BACKGROUND

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, grocery and drug retail workers have fought for hazard pay. As a result of these efforts, starting in February of this year, numerous government bodies across California including Los Angeles County (for unincorporated areas) and the cities of Montebello, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and several other cities, passed mandates granting some type of appreciation pay for grocery and drug store workers.

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