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Oakland Becomes Latest California City to Pass Hazard Pay for Grocery Store Workers, Granting $5 More Per Hour

“It seems only fair that we provide hazard pay as a way to appreciate and fairly compensate the workers who are allowing us to continue to purchase the food and supplies we need despite sheltering in place. This is something that is long overdue,”

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Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas

The Oakland City Council last week unanimously passed a measure requiring large supermarkets to give their employees an extra $5 an hour as hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

   The California Grocers Association, which represents grocery store owners, quickly sued the city a day later, arguing that many stores cannot afford the pay raise and that stores would be forced to raise prices.

      Minimum wage in Oakland is currently $14.14 an hour – a skimpy wage for the expensive Bay Area. That means that grocery store workers making minimum wage will earn at least $19.19 an hour.

      Councilmembers said the increase in pay was necessary to compensate workers for risking their health to serve the public urging the COVID-19 pandemic. “The national retail grocery chains are making enormous profits through this pandemic,” said Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, who co-sponsored the legislation.

   “It seems only fair that we provide hazard pay as a way to appreciate and fairly compensate the workers who are allowing us to continue to purchase the food and supplies we need despite sheltering in place. This is something that is long overdue,” Fortunato Bas said.

      Albertsons Co., the company that owns Safeway, saw its profits increase by 153% in the first two quarters of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, according to a November 2020 report from the Brookings Institute.

      The mandate applies to large grocery stores that have at least 15,000 spare feet of retail space and 500 or more employees nationwide. Oakland stores that will be affected include Safeway, Whole Foods, and Target. The law includes a waiver or credit for stores like Lucky’s, Safeway and FoodMaxx that have already been paying their workers hazard pay throughout the pandemic. Those stores have been paying an extra $2.50 to $3.50 an hour.

 

    Grocery store workers spoke in support of the measure at the City Council meeting where the measure was considered and ultimately passed. “Hazard pay means additional payment for performing a dangerous duty or work related to physical hardship. Grocery is a dangerous job today and physical suffering is pain and death,” said Devin Ramos, a 23-year Safeway employee.

    “My work day puts me in a busy store close by to hundreds of customers every day, and I have no realistic way of social-distancing away while doing my job duties. I have no way for every customer who enters my store to wear a mask, or to prevent them from removing their masks, Ramos said.

      Other California cities, including Antioch, Concord, and Berkeley in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, are considering passing similar hazard pay laws.

   On Wednesday, San Jose City Council passed hazard pay legislation. The Los Angeles City Council also recently asked city attorneys to craft a hazard pay law for the council to vote on.

    Krogers closed a store in Long Beach after the City Council passed a $4 per hour hazard pay law.

Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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Bay Area

Rush bowls

The perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers.

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Rush bowls are the perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers. Packed with nutrients and fully customizable, Rush bowls offer healthy, delicious alternatives to standard fast-casual fare. Rush bowls is open Mondays-Fridays from 10am-6pm at 350 17th Street, Oakland,CA 94619. Available for indoor dining, and delivery through GRUBHUBhttps://rushbowls.com/oakland

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Bay Area

A Deep East Oakland Based Grocery Coop is Opening

​“The community here deserves life and good health,” said Romo. “And so much of that is literally what we eat.”

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The DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners (left to right) Daniel Harris-Lucas, Jameelah Lane, Yolanda Romo and Erin Higginbotham stand at Acta Non Verba’s Youth Urban Farm Project in deep East Oakland. Photo taken by Fox Nakai in October, 2020.

The four worker owners of a new grocery store in deep East Oakland want to bring more healthy food options to the area through a cooperative model. The DEEP Grocery Coop opened for online sales on April 7. By Fall, the worker owners plan to open a storefront.

“We’re coming together for the cause of changing food access in the deep East Oakland community,” said worker owner Daniel Harris-Lucas. “We’re trying to create social change and not necessarily getting into it for profit.”

   Deep East Oakland currently has limited options for healthy food. While a large chain grocery store, Foods Co., operates in the area, its organic and fresh foods sections are limited, and the store is still several miles from where many deep East Oakland residents live.

      Deep East Oaklanders largely find themselves eating what’s most accessible: highly processed foods sold in the many liquor stores in or near their neighborhoods. Worker owners of the DEEP Grocery Coop plan to stock lots of healthy foods including fresh, local and organic vegetables and fruits.

All four DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners live in deep East Oakland and are passionate about eating healthy, which can be challenging. Worker owner Yolanda Romo drives out to Berkeley Bowl to buy her groceries. She says she never sees her neighbors there, and is saddened that she has to shop at a business in a more affluent city instead of being able to get healthy foods near her neighborhood. 

“The community here deserves life and good health,” said Romo. “And so much of that is literally what we eat.”

The DEEP Grocery Coop’s worker owners acknowledge that price is an important part of making healthy food accessible, and they want their foods to be affordable for local residents.  

     They have plans to receive grant funding that will allow those with food stamps to buy California grown produce at a 50% discount. As a small cooperative, with no boss that expects a large profit, the worker owners can focus instead on sustaining the store and themselves while keeping prices as low as they can for the community.

    They also are making connections with small local Black and Brownled farms, like Raised Roots, who find it difficult to get their products into larger chain stores.

Education is key to The DEEP Grocery Coop’s project, as the knowledge of how to eat healthy is less accessible to the largely Black and Brown population of East Oakland, and is falsely associated as only being for white people. As an example, Romo points out quinoa, a wholegrain seed that is high in protein fiber and B vitamin.

“Quinoa is a supercheap Peruvian necessity and someone branded it,” Romo said. “That branding isn’t catered to communities of color but to white people who have more choices.”

To share knowledge, worker owners have done free cooking demonstrations and informative healthy food discussions. They share knowledge about healthy foods through instagram

Their instagram account also serves as a place to educate the public about the cooperative model, which worker owners say allows them more autonomy. As they begin to sell foods online and eventually open their in-person store, they hope to serve as a model for other deep East Oakland residents who want to create businesses that better serve their community. 

“I hope this inspires others in the community to be worker owners and to make decisions and run their businesses the way they want to do it,” said Romo. “The topdown model that we see everywhere and the huge corporate chains that surround East Oakland haven’t helped.”

Decision making in the DEEP Grocery Coop will be more localized, allowing it to cater to the deep East Oakland Community. Worker owner Jameelah Lane expects the store to be full of “things that resemble East Oakland” like vibrant colors, graffiti painting and good music. She wants the store to have “culturally recognizable foods” like bean pies and tamales. 

The DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners are not the only people who helped create the store. Mandela Grocery Cooperative, a non-profit youth urban farm project called Acta Non Verba, and an organization that helps launch Bay Area Blackled cooperatives called Repaired Nation, all acted as a steering committee to help train and guide the worker owners during the projects formation.

    But, as originally planned, all those organizations have given full control to the worker owners at this point. The workerowner staff are still relatively new to each other, with the full fourperson crew not coming together until last summer. They are excited about what they have been able accomplish in such a short time and about starting to bring more healthy foods to deep East Oakland.

“We want to inspire people to be change-makers instead of waiting for it,” said Harris-Lucas. “We’ve been able to really grow something just from the common love for our community.”

Anyone throughout the Bay Area who wants to support the coop can now order food on their website: https://thedeepgrocery.coop, and arrange a curbside pickup. People can also donate to support the project through the store’s gofundme campaign.

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