San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney introduced a resolution Tuesday urging Mayor London Breed to use her emergency powers to increase pay and protections for employees at “essential” businesses, such as grocery stores and food delivery companies.
Only essential businesses — which include restaurants and cafes offering takeout and delivery — are allowed to stay open during San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order. Haney’s resolution, which has no legislative teeth, comes in response to grocery and retail workers who say they are risking their lives by coming to work every day.
“What it means to work at a grocery store is very different today from what it meant two weeks ago, and their pay and protections should reflect that,” Haney said.
Resolutions are nonbinding and are often just a statement of values from the Board of Supervisors. Since the citywide emergency was declared, supervisors have increasingly turned to resolutions to urge Breed to use her executive powers to quickly enact changes they would like to see.
Even expedited legislation could still take a few weeks to finally go into effect, but the mayor’s executive powers allow her to act much faster.
Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for the mayor, said Breed is working through a number of ideas on how to help workers who are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He said the mayor’s office is happy to continue working with the board on any ideas they have.
“We appreciate resolutions, but phone calls also work for sharing ideas,” he said.
The city has promised funding for businesses to expand already-required paid sick leave to some workers. But Jim Araby, a spokesman for the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents employees at Safeway and other stores, said it is important for businesses to recognize the risks that their employees face while on the job.
Grocery store workers and food-delivery drivers “have fear and anxiety about their risk of exposure to the virus,” he said.
“Cashiers are probably seeing an average of 300 to 500 people per shift,” he added. “And all of the (social distancing) measures that are being put in place are harder for them to abide by. They are taking people’s money and interacting with a large range of customers.”
Haney wants other large stores — those with 20 employees or more — to come in line with grocery giant Safeway, which on Monday reached an agreement with a union representing Northern California workers to increase their pay, hours and sanitation.
Under the agreement, Albertsons, the nationwide grocery chain that owns Safeway, pledged to give a $2-an-hour pay raise to California grocery workers at Safeway, Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions stores.
The grocery store also said it will pay workers for up to two weeks if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are told by their health care provider that they need to quarantine or self-isolate. Employees 65 or over who choose to self-isolate out of an abundance of caution will be able to use accrued sick or vacation time.
Haney’s resolution also urges the mayor to use her emergency powers to provide child care for all employees working in retail grocery, retail drugstore and food delivery services, such as DoorDash and Postmates.
“Our city can’t operate if the grocery stores aren’t open,” Haney said. “And these folks are scared and they are vulnerable. The experience at their job has changed quickly, and they should know that their city has their back.”
Trisha Thadani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org