City to consider ‘Hero Pay’ for some frontline workers Thursday

A temporary pay bump for certain workers in the city is up for discussion Thursday during the regular meeting of the Palm Springs City Council.

The move, dubbed ‘Hero Pay,’ would mandate increased hourly pay in the city for workers in certain grocery stores and pharmacies. Similar measures were approved recently in other California cities, including locally in Coachella.

Grocery store workers in Los Angeles demonstrate for hazard pay they say they deserve for working the front lines during the pandemic (LA Times photo)

On Feb. 10, the Coachella City Council mandated a $4 an hour temporary pay increase for workers at certain agriculture operations, as well as workers at some grocery stores, retail pharmacies, and restaurants. The mandates only apply to businesses that employ 300 or more people nationally and have five or more workers locally. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to require publicly-traded, national grocery and drug retail employers to pay frontline workers in unincorporated areas of the county an additional $5 per hour for the next 120 days.

If adopted in Palm Springs, the mandatory wage increase could result in legal action or other moves by affected companies. In Long Beach, for example, the California Grocers Assn. sued after that city approved a hero pay measure in January. The lawsuit came after Kroger announced it would close two stores — a Ralphs location and a Food4Less store — in response to the required salary boost.

Participate: Written comments may be emailed to the City Council at [email protected] and must be received prior to the start of meeting. The public may also offer comments by calling the Office of the City Clerk prior to the meeting no later than 5 p.m. The phone number is 760-323-8204. At the appropriate time, a staff member will call members back to provide testimony.

Tune in: Residents can watch the Council meeting live online here , on the City’s YouTube channel, or on Palm Springs Community Television Channel 17.


BRIEFLY

SCHOOL DISTRICT AWARDS, REOPENING PLAN: The Palm Springs Unified School District handed out monthly awards during a meeting Tuesday evening. Paula Kadubeck, a Katherine Finchy Elementary School resource teacher, was recognized as certified staff member of the month. Heather Bonestell, administrative assistant in the Superintendent’s office,  who “has been handling two jobs for most of the pandemic,” according to Superintendent Dr. Sandra Lyon, was awarded classified employee of the month. Also last night, the school board voted 5-0 to approve a reopening plan that would see some students back in buildings by mid-April. County health officials must still approve the plan.

EXPLOSION FOLLOW-UP: The Palm Springs Fire Department has yet to release any information about an explosion and fire that destroyed a home in the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood late Monday. “The fire is under investigation,” a spokesperson said when asked for comment. “As soon as it is complete we can release information.” The incident was reported at approximately 10 PM Monday after an explosion was heard as far away as Cathedral City and smoke and flames could be seen soon afterward.

WAREHOUSE ON AGENDA: Development of a 1.4-million-square-foot warehouse fulfillment center on the far north edge of Palm Springs near Whitewater will be discussed during the Palm Springs Planning Commission study session tonight. View the meeting live on the city’s website, on YouTube, or Channel 17 (Spectrum) at 4 PM.

VACCINES: A COVID vaccine clinic continues at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, from 8 AM-5 PM through Friday. You must be eligible and make an appointment first. Appointments can be reserved online at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Find community providers such as pharmacies here. An additional 14 cases and one death were reported over the past five days in the city, bringing the total to 3,573 cases and 109 deaths. More than 3,200 people have recovered.

HISTORY CARAVAN: The Palm Springs Black History Committee is hosting a “Caravan Thru African American History” Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 AM. The caravan kicks off at United Methodist Church of Palm Springs, 1555 E. Alejo Road. To register, visit this site.

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