San Jose Considers ‘Hazard Pay’ for Grocery Store Workers

The San Jose City Council today plans to vote on a proposal that would require large corporate grocery stores, chain supermarkets and retail stores that sell food products to pay employees an additional $5 per hour.

If passed, the ordinance introduced by Councilman Sergio Jimenez would be implemented immediately and expire when the county’s Covid-19 health order is lifted.

“Alongside doctors and nurses, retail food workers have served the residents of San Jose while taking on tremendous risks,” Jimenez said.

Retail workers, including grocery store employees, are five times more likely to test positive for Covid-19, according to a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“Hazard pay is necessary to justly compensate retail food workers for the clear and present dangers of doing their jobs during the pandemic, ensure the welfare of workers, and continue stable operation of our much-needed food supply chain,” Jimenez added.

The extra pay would only apply to food suppliers with 300 or more employees nationwide. Corner stores, mom-and-pop shops and small ethnic markets would be exempt because they have already been disproportionally hit by Covid-19, Jimenez said.

In the early days of the pandemic, some grocery stores voluntarily instituted wage increases in the form of ‘Hero Pay” or “Appreciation Pay,” but many stopped.

However, those retailers that continued to provide additional wages to workers will receive a credit. That means if a grocer was paying employees an additional $2 per hour, they would chip in just $3 more to make up the $5.

Erik Larsen, a 53-year-old San Jose resident, started working at Lucky’s Supermarkets after losing his job at the start of the pandemic.

In a letter to the council, Larsen said the hazard pay was essential for him and his employees who are “critical in the food supply chain.”

“I put myself in harm’s way,” he wrote. “It’s really only a matter time that I'm exposed to Covid. Do I deserve more while big corporations are making money hand over fist on the back of my labor? Yes, I do.”

He noted that many customers skirted Covid-19 safety protocols, putting employees at a greater risk. Throughout the months he saw many coworkers “disappear,” because they got infected while management was “silent.”

“I realized this was no joke,” Larsen wrote.

He concluded his missive with a question for the City Council: “What is my labor worth?”

The hazard pay plan was introduced last week at a Rules and Open Government Committee, which it cleared with a 4-1 vote. Councilwoman Dev Davis, the subcommittee member who dissented, said she worried that grocers would increase their prices to account for the hazard pay, forcing residents to foot the bill instead.

But Jimenez, along with council members Sylvia Arenas, David Cohen and Raul Peralez and Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, emphasized how necessary the extra pay is, especially for those struggling to make up financial losses after contracting Covid-19.

A similar proposal was also introduced last week at the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting, where the five-member body voted to draft a “Hero Pay” ordinance that would raise some essential workers’ hourly wage by $5.

The additional pay would last for 180 days and apply to grocery and retail stores with 300 or more employees nationwide and companies that are publicly traded.

The motion passed 4-1, with Supervisor Mike Wasserman abstaining because of financial ties to McDonald's Corp., which would be affected by the change.

Supervisors will be presented with a “Hero Pay” draft at their Feb. 23 meeting.

San Jose council members could institute the hazard pay as soon as today.

“Let us remember that those workers who put their lives on the line to provide us with food and services do so out of need to care for themselves and their families,” Jimenez said. “This is our opportunity to demonstrate to them that we ... respect and appreciate their courage, and most importantly value their worth.”

San Jose’s elected leaders will discuss the hazard pay ordinance no later than 4pm at today’s virtual council session. Click here to tune in.


  1. They don’t have to leave California. Just move the stores out of San Jose. Folks can shop in Campbell, Fremont, Morgan Hill, or online. Most already do.

  2. Kroger’s said it will shut down two stores in Long Beach because of hazard pay ordinance.

    It would be sad if people started loosing their jobs due to store closures. I hope that doesn’t happen in SJ.

  3. $5 per hour “hazard pay”?

    If it’s truly hazardous, it should be $10,000 per shift.

    If someone loses an arm or a leg while working in the checkout lane, $5 isn’t going to go very far,

  4. Let’s just keep destroying our local economy.

    Of course it’s only the ‘big’ companies that will be inconvenienced with the added costs. The mom & pop workers get nothing, but in theory have the same assumed risk they claim.

    Will this apply to DoorDash, GrubHub or Amazon Fresh deliveries? Aren’t they essential food workers, or do we exempt Bezo and the one of the biggest/richest retailers in the country?

  5. I think most of the comments are addressing the unintended consequences of wage controls, not a Randian conspiracy. Some store chains like Safeway do have unionized workers who already collectively bargained with their employer for pay increases after the onset of the pandemic. There’s nothing wrong with voluntary cooperation and agreement.

    Joe Biden promises a $15 minimum wage because his union backers want it, without regard to the small businesses which will continue to disappear and the continued unemployment of already disadvantaged workers.

    When Oakland raised its minimum wage above the state minimum, some restaurants were only a few blocks from the city limit and simply moved on down the road, Jack. Storefronts are available.

  6. Shouldn’t the taxpayers receive significant; property, income and all other assorted tax breaks since we are hazarded by elected members of the Communist party?

    Is an extra $5 an hour going to protect anyone from the virus and or the cold, Icey finger of death?

    This will be a boon for Zanotto’s Market…Mi Pueblo between 5th and 6th is going to be busier too.

    David S. Wall

  7. > Keeping everyone apart serves to make it EASY to manipulate and control them.

    Exactly the opposite.

    Keeping everyone together in their collectivist herd with their group identity “makes it EASY to manipulate and control them.”

  8. Keeping everyone together in their collectivist herd with their group identity “makes it EASY to manipulate and control them.”

    only if you pit groups against each other, that is paramount. otherwise they will figure out they are getting played by our overlords

    best to use all tools at hand to pit groups against each, skin tone, eliminating one culture for the sake of another but make conditions impossible for that new culture to be successful or allow members of the incumbent culture to participate in the proped up one, in essence keep groups at war with each other by design

  9. “ Although the government doesn’t legally own the labor force, the central planners tell the people where they should work.”… this case, how much they should be paid. communism? (Question mark for a reason)

  10. You gave a link to a nine-year-old poll that says, “The survey reached a total of 805 likely General Election voters nationwide.” Who cares?

    These government statistics say Black unemployment ages 18-19 went from 19.3% to 21.3% during 2020:

    That’s structural unemployment. How would a $15 minimum wage help them? If society thinks everyone deserves $15/hour, then society should subsidize wages up to $15/hour and let employers hire them at any wage so they learn job skills and can move up. Putting the societal burden exclusively on employers forces many to close shop.

  11. There’s no way to determine whether raising the minimum wage helps or hurts the economy. Too many variables. Too subjective.
    But generally, if you subsidize something you get more of it. If we think it’s good for society to have more people working in grocery stores their entire lives, being complacent and not aspiring to anything else because we’ve forced their employer to pay them more than they otherwise would, then by all means, let’s have a nation of retail clerks, fast food workers, and uber drivers.
    As for this “hazard pay”, give me a break. Toughen up people.

  12. > EXACTLY what Dinesh D’Sousa and his friends are doing, trying to convince the groups to fight each other.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Kindly give me a clear, lucid, compelling example.

    Executive summary, please. Just show me your last PowerPoint chart.

  13. Naturally San Jose has to join the crowd of lefty-run cities playing with Hero Pay.

    What percentage increase in pay is this?

    Is this a new pay ratchet, like a tax ratchet, its object only increases?

    Two marginal stores in Long Beach have been closed. What about marginal stores in Bay Area cities, marginal from high losses from theft and other problems as much as or more than poorer sales? Will closure of these stores result in more left-wing opprobrium, Evil Corporate “Food Desert”-ification? (You do know that the response at least sometimes to “Food Desert” is “It’s already a wasteland, and made that way [by too many local people].”)


    It would help landlords for sure. I think its about time the government gave landlord a break!

    Thanks Joe!

  15. Steven is ALWAYS the smartest person in the room. Period.
    And the sooner all of you ignorant deplorables acknowledge that, the better off he will be.

  16. And I’m not the brightest bulb in the box Steve, but if you’re waiting to hear for a superior option, to me a superior option would be to challenge people who are “struggling”, who are “underserved”, and who have bought into the toxic myth that they are institutionally doomed to a bleak existence, demanding that their fellow citizens bail them out, to instead use their God given talents and abilities to take advantage of the historical, unprecedented, unlimited opportunity that today’s economy, especially here in wealthy Silicon Valley is affording them and quit listening to the pandering politicians who encourage them to moan and complain. It’s bad for society and it’s bad for their souls.

  17. You are WRONG, it’s the Government. I just watched a New York restaurant owner on TV who moved his business and the employees to Florida where they are able to dine in at 100% capacity and according to him things are going great.
    It was the Government that shut him down in NY, not the Virus.

  18. Who issued the stay at home order and closed the restaurants?
    Was it:

    A) God
    B) The Virus
    C) The Government

    I rest my case.

  19. For being smart, literate people, y’all are awfully ignorant.
    Stop thinking you know what i am thinking. Stop labeling me, stop putting your words in my mouth, stop discriminating against me and my opinions.
    Open your mind. Coexist. Embrace diversity. You have become what you think you detest.

  20. There you go again, and you still don’t see it. Open your mind, stop assigning your beliefs and meanings to my posts.

    The Government thought up and passed the orders, no one and nothing else did.
    The virus (& God as you say) statistically killed as many people in Florida as it did in NY (arguably less but that’s a different topic) and those states used very different approaches. NY shut everything down even until present day and Florida did only briefly, being largely open and unrestricted now.

    Therefore the Govt. cost people their livelihood (& so much more) in NY (& CA).
    Not GOD. And technically not the Virus, though i will concede the Virus was the impetuous for what the Govt. did. But the Govt. still owns it. Now I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they were/are trying to do the right thing, especially since there was no historical record to draw from to know if it would work or not. However, once we could see via actual evidence that closing down society did not make a difference in the number of patients (and arguably has hurt more than it has helped) they should have stopped what they were doing in order to save people from the unforeseen consequences of the their orders.

    Besides, do you think if God (assuming one exists) wanted to kill more people that the Govt. could prevent “IT” from doing so?

  21. “You entitled to your own opinion, but you can’t have your own facts”. You are wrong.

    Government actions did NOT save a significant amount of lives. Fact.
    The original shutdown worked? How so? The Govt. said it was to “flatten the curve”. If you are arguing it achieved that goal I may concede. However if you are arguing it did more than that then you are wrong again.

    People like you who are arguing for Govt. control of everyone’s lives are causing more deaths than the virus, via suicide, lack of basic medical care due to fear, delay of “optional” surgeries, etc. It is people like you have caused numerous others lives to be ruined financially and via depression.

    The “fact” is, people would hardly even know COVID existed if it weren’t used as a scare tactic to take control of people lives for political gain of the Elite.

    If you think I am bad, have a look at this. He has a very reasoned argument and largely supported with fact.

    There’s a lot of us out there that believe our own lying eyes and not the Govt. lies.

  22. You have fact checked nothing and don’t even know it, which speaks volumes, and not kindly.

    I said in my previous post that “If you think I am bad, have a look at this”. I did not say i was “going to try to bring out proof regarding viruses and the impact on public health”. That was you putting your bias in my mouth again. Open your mind.

    By the way you obviously did not read the referenced post. You only attempted to smear it. Typical from someone who can’t see the forest through the trees.

    Plus I gave the Govt. “the benefit of the doubt” and do not consider myself a ““government” conspiracy promoter” as you Labeled me. However it is painfully obvious for anyone who is actually thinking, and not sucking down propaganda, that the Pandemic is being used for political purposes. So if that makes me a conspiracy theorist in your mind go ahead and keep Labeling me. You’re pretty good at that anyway.

    Again, you seem to be everything you proclaim to hate.

  23. I can see you can cut & paste, but still not convinced you read it. Can you present unbiased evidence you read it?
    By they way, what do you accept as unbiased evidence? Something that agrees with your thinking?
    Furthermore, who compiled the SCC-DPH statistical findings? Who wrote their conclusions?
    Do they included false positive tests? Do they include deaths “with” Covid as opposed to “of” Covid? Are they unbiased? Is there any bias in the reporting system? Do Hospitals receive more money for each Covid Death from the Feds? Does this cause them to artificially increase the total # of deaths (knowing that no one is looking so they can get away with it) so they can make more money? So many more questions.
    You seem to have religious like “faith” in the Govt. You believe they cannot be wrong or inept. That they would never knowingly steer a narrative for personal benefit. I, however do not have that faith in them. In fact quite the opposite. But you go ahead and keep believing whatever they tell you to believe. CNN will help you keep doing just that.

    I digress. I was once told to “never argue with idiots, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”. It seems i should have remembered that advice sooner….
    Good day to you

  24. Work90, do you even read these rants? Goodness I hope youve learned just to ignore them, they are vacant.

  25. blah blah blah there is no debate

    no one cares what just another little renter in Mountain View thinks, we already know. “poor me, the rents too high”, “my landlord is a slumlord”, “my boss doesn’t pay me enough”, “one day we will get back at you”, or some variant on that, tired, played out, and boring. At least SALEM, ECONOCLAST, et al write well and bring new insight, unlike this flat prose.

    Skin in the game is the license to be respected by men, beyond all this political correct talk and censorship threats, that is the real truth.

    After that, in the consolation prize in life, it’s one man one vote and if you just vote like 95% of the other resent-o-cultist hypocrites in MV, your vote matters nada. At least many of your cult are rich from the $2M bungalows they own. You just make your slumlord richer each passing day, wasting away thinking about what you would do if you where king of the world and could pass laws at your whim.

    All you are is blah blah blah, vacant, unable to make your own life better, so you rail against those you think are holding you back. Time to face the music and get busy improving your situation.

  26. Well this so easy, stop paying teachers that are not working. Take the money we save and give it to the people that are deemed worthy of hazard pay. By the way, I caught covid-19 for New Years, and the damn Socialist government did absolutely nothing for me!

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