You are here
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- The California Grocers Association (CGA) has said it strongly opposes a worker retention ordinance being considered in West Hollywood. If passed, this would be the second such ordinance adopted by a California city.
Earlier this week the West Hollywood City Council instructed its city attorney to draft a grocery worker retention ordinance similar to one approved by the City of Los Angeles last December.
The Los Angeles ordinance requires a grocery store purchasing another grocery store to retain the employees of the old store for 90 days. If not all the employees are needed by the new owner, a list must be maintained of the previous employees and all new hires must first come from that list. The ordinance only applies to stores 15,000 square feet or larger.
The ordinance's stated purpose is to protect the public's health and safety by ensuring proper food safety. However, the CGA argues that the State of California and the County of Los Angeles already aggressively regulate, inspect, and enforce food safety laws regardless of location, experience, or size. Proponents claim that retaining the former employees would ensure safe food product handling by the new grocery store operator.
"It is imperative retailers throughout California assist CGA by actively engaging in defeating this very dangerous ordinance," said CGA president Peter Larkin in a statement. "If left unchecked, cities throughout California will adopt similar ordinances. This is only the tip of the iceberg."
In addition, labor unions, which played a major role in the ordinance's passage, will work overtime to capitalize on their Los Angeles success and seek passage of similar ordinances elsewhere, Larkin added.
Unlike Los Angeles, the West Hollywood City Council is considering applying its worker retention ordinance to all retailers, not just the grocery industry. In addition, the council wants input from local grocers, despite the industry's strong opposition.
The council also directed the city attorney to review the legality of the L.A. ordinance before proceeding with a draft West Hollywood ordinance. The city attorney will have 60 days to return a draft to the city council.
CGA opposes the ordinance for numerous reasons, Larkin said. "The ordinance discourages supermarkets from locating within city limits," he said. "Storeowners will be more likely to sell to a nongrocery retailer instead of another supermarket in order to avoid the onerous provisions of the ordinance."
CGA has made repealing the L.A. ordinance its No. 1 priority. "We are considering our options for a legal challenge and have enlisted allied associations both here and in Washington, D.C. in our fight," said Larkin. "And because this issue stands to impact all retail, we will muster support from similar industries -- restaurant, hotel/motel, etc. -- as they stand to be next in the city's cross-hairs."