Malibu Approves ‘Hero Pay’ for Grocery Workers

Malibu Whole Foods

Malibu grocery store workers will now receive $5 added to their hourly wages after the Malibu City Council passed a unanimous urgency ordinance at the Monday, April 12, Malibu City Council meeting. The ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Mikke Pierson and Council Member Bruce Silverstein, will go into effect immediately; it is set to expire in June, but may be extended. 

The ordinance only applies to grocery and drug retail stores that are publicly traded and employ more than 10 employees per store in Malibu, so it will affect Ralphs, Pavilions, Whole Foods and CVS.

The ordinance met some backlash from the public. Nick Buro, who spoke on behalf of Malibu grocers, said that many stores had already provided an “unprecedented amount of supplemental pay leave,” along with additional pay and benefits. The hero pay ordinance, he said, would go beyond what is economically feasible for some stores, forcing closures, spiking food prices and limiting operating hours. 

Resident Scott Dittrich opposed the ordinance on a “philosophical level,” saying that “if this was the city wanting to pay these guys, I think that would be fine, but I don’t think the city should tell private companies what to pay.” 

Silverstein responded that he usually would agree with Dittrich that the free market should be left to thrive, but this time was different.

Silverstein said he shops at Ralphs in Malibu and knows its staff well. He wanted to see them taken care of, especially because their fellow employees in nearby cities were getting benefits they were not and because many people from other jurisdictions had come into Malibu during the pandemic and exposed the grocery store workers to the coronavirus. 

Pierson, too, expressed support for local grocery store workers, stressing a similar point as Silverstein’s: “Malibu’s been overrun by people coming into our town … [they’re] in that building all day long with hordes of people coming in.”