Hourly workers at some city grocery stores will get a temporary boost in pay under an ordinance passed by the Palm Springs City Council Thursday evening.
Under the measure, dubbed “Hero Pay,” workers at grocery stores owned by large corporations will receive $4 more per hour for the next four months as a way to compensate them for being on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers at pharmacies, included in the ordinance when first proposed last month, were not included in the final version.
Throughout California, more than a dozen other municipalities have passed similar measures. Grocery store owners have been strongly opposed, claiming that being forced to pay higher wages will lead to store closures that ultimately hurt communities.
City Council members acknowledged Thursday evening the move may upset some executives, including many who gather for an annual convention here that brings in an estimated $1.5 million to the city economy. They made it clear, however, that while the city will always listen to opposition, its leaders won’t be intimidated.
“There is a lot of hardball being played,” said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton. “Veiled threats coming from the grocery industry (are) not helpful. They closed two stores in Long Beach with a lot of publicity, but those stores were already for sale.”
Holding Fortune 500 companies accountable at a time when many are seeing record profits is ultimately the right thing to do for the community, added Mayor Christy Holstege.
“It’s in our best interest as a community to support workers,” said Holstege. “We are rapidly moving toward being a city that is only for the wealthy. It’s Impossible to buy a house in Palm Springs right now if you don’t make well over six figures.”
A half dozen area residents who spoke during a public comment period, including many who work in grocery stores, were in favor of the ordinance, relaying stories of fear, stress, and financial hardships faced during the past year.
“The store I work at has given us only $100 in gift cards,” one grocery store employee told the Council. “My kids are at home and can’t go to school. They are eating all day.
“It’s a scary time that we have to go through. It’s very stressful.”
DESERT X OPENS: Art installations throughout the Coachella Valley, including several within the Palm Springs city limits, are officially open to visit starting today. The free event runs through May 16. Those interested in learning more or touring the installations, created by 13 artists from eight countries, will be able to find maps here, at the Desert X hub, and via a Desert X app that went live today.
- OPEN/CLOSED: While the county anxiously awaits moving into the less-restrictive red tier, which could be announced today, restaurants, shops and services, parks, farmers’ markets, hiking trails, the Air Museum, and golf courses are all open with some at limited capacity. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is also open at limited capacity, but no tickets are available this weekend. Some indoor dining at restaurants, as well as limited use of indoor gyms and movie theaters, will be allowed if and when the county moves to the red tier.
- ALL WEEKEND: The Agua Caliente Casino downtown is open at limited capacity, with masks and social distancing required.
- TONIGHT: “The Refills” appear at Palm Canyon Roadhouse, 535 S. Palm Canyon Dr., at 6 PM and 10 PM, in their new Backyard Rock Patio.
- SATURDAY: Discussion of sustainable turf options at the city’s dog park will take place at 11 AM via Zoom. For information on how to participate, look here.
- SATURDAY: “Mimosa Men” pour champagne and entertain the audience at Oscar’s Palm Springs, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, starting at 11:30 AM. Tickets can be purchased here.
- SATURDAY: “212 Band” appears at Palm Canyon Roadhouse, 535 S. Palm Canyon Dr., at 6 PM and 10 PM.
- SUNDAY: Chill Bar on East Arenas offers a drag brunch outside from 12 PM-2:30 PM. Tickets are $12 per person. In order to meet social distancing requirements you must purchase a full table.
- SUNDAY: PS Drag Brunch opens at Roly China Fusion. Tickets start at $15, but are sold out for the initial event this weekend. A portion of each ticket sold is donated to Sanctuary Palm Springs, helping the LGBTQ+ community of foster youth transitioning to adulthood.
- SUNDAY: Live jazz returns to Palm Canyon Roadhouse, 535 S. Palm Canyon Dr., starting at 2 PM.
- SUNDAY: “Dishin’ with the Durbins” streams live at 6 PM on YouTube. Expect chat, cocktails, laughs, music, and more during the weekly show.
TRAFFIC BOX ART: Neighbors in Desert Highlands Gateway Estates are being encouraged to vote on proposed designs for area traffic boxes to be painted under a city program titled “Stop in the Name of Love Traffic Box Project.” Two boxes in the neighborhood will be painted. To see the proposed designs, turn here. To vote on the designs, turn here. Voting ends Sunday.
HELP FOR FOOD SAMARITANS
During this entire month, 20 percent of net USPS, UPS, and FedEx transactions at Postal Palm Springs will be donated to AAP – Food Samaritans. This is the first promotion of its kind to be arranged for the local nonprofit dedicated to providing nutritional support to improve the quality of the lives of low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.