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Published February 13, 2021 10:15 AM

FILE: Immigrant farm workers harvest a spinach field near Coachella in 2017. (David McNew/AFP via Getty Images)

Add Coachella to the list of cities that have approved “hero pay” for essential workers.

But unlike hazard pay measures passed in cities like Long Beach, Montebello, and Oakland, Coachella’s ordinance also includes farmworkers. The emergency ordinance approved unanimously by the Coachella City Council this weekrequires some growers, grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants to increase employee pay by $4 an hour for 120 days.

The requirement only applies to companies that have at least five workers in Coachella and 300 employees total.

Desert Sun reporter Rebecca Plevin, who covered the decision, says the measure is opposed by the California Grocers Association, the California Restaurant Association, and several growers who say the pandemic has hurt their bottom lines:

“All of the buffets, and all of those schools, and universities, and hotels, all those places that used to need produce to feed people are not buying as much produce anymore.”

Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez says he supports including farmworkers in the measure, but he’s questioned whether growers should be solely responsible for the wage increase.

“There’s some ideas that I’ve thrown out, for example, creating some tax credits,” Hernandez said. “And the other thing, the city could put its money where its mouth is at, and we could offer a portion of that hero pay.”

The city’s resolution states: “agricultural, grocery, restaurant, and retail pharmacy workers working during the COVID-19 emergency merit additional compensation because they are performing hazardous duty due to the significant risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.”

Researchers at UC San Francisco found that during the pandemic Latino food and agriculture workers in California have experienced a nearly 60% increase in deaths above what would have been expected.

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Daniel TL

Daniel TL