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This Bill Could Save the Jobs of California's Grocery Store Workers

A new bill signed by California Governor Jerry Brown will protect grocery store workers from getting fired in the case of a change of ownership or corporate merger.

by Javier Cabral
Aug 19 2015, 2:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Rosa Say

New residents that move into up-and-coming neighborhoods will ultimately demand different supermarkets—this is a fact. Because let's be real: A family that just dropped half a million dollars on a home probably isn't going to want to fill their cabinets with generic-brand chips and cereal from the 99-cent store. The more likely scenario is that these stores will eventually be replaced by a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods (or maybe one of its soon-to-come, cheaper 365 by Whole Foods Market stores).

California, we are looking at you. With your $6,000-a-month rents in San Francisco and lack of housing in Los Angeles, it turns out that your supermarket employees are always the first ones to get screwed over and lose their jobs. That is, until now—since California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a measure that will require large grocery stores keep their workers for at least 90 days after a change in store ownership.

READ: LA Health Department Not Delighted By Supermarket Selling Whole Dead Raccoons

The newly signed bill—crafted by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales—is directly aimed at helping the hardworking grocery-store workers statewide, regardless of position, protecting them in the event of a change of grocery store ownership and also in the event of a corporate merger.

"Wall Street mergers and acquisitions that make big money for corporations and private equity firms should not jeopardize jobs of the grocery workers who live and work in our communities," said Gonzalez in a statement published in the Sacramento Business Journal.

Unsurprisingly, this bill is strongly backed by labor groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the same labor group which also recently fought for the right of supermarket employees to unionize within the anti-union Mexican supermarket chain El Super.

However, like all potentially new laws, this bill also had a few adversaries arguing that it would force a company to keep its predecessor's employees and adhere to contracts that the new owner did not negotiate. One of the biggest opponents has been the California Chamber of Commerce, which labeled the measure AB 359, a "job killer."

Supermarket employees have always been there for you when you needed them the most. Just think of those times when you were downtrodden to find an empty shelf in place of your favorite almond milk when an employee magically arrived with a carton from the back, or when your favorite cashier let a couple of pennies slide because you didn't have any change and didn't want to break an entire dollar?

They are indeed unsung heroes, and now the law finally has their backs as they have had ours.

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