Rodan: Grocery store hazard pay decision showed true colors of San Jose councilmembers
The San Jose City Council will order large grocery stores to pay works an additional $3 an hour. File photo.

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday led a righteous crusade against the evil conspirings of labor organizers and grocery store workers fighting for a $5 pay increase at stores with 300 national employees or more.

The horror!

Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmembers Dev Davis and Matt Mahan fought back against this socialist onslaught, and asked the question that lies deep in the hearts of all San Joseans: Won’t somebody think of poor Jeff Bezos?

What a travesty it would be if the multinational mom-and-pop chain stores we know and love had to pay their employees well during a pandemic in which thousands of grocery workers have risked their lives to feed us.

How dare we tell these wholesome “local” businesses, who have made billions during this devastating recession, that their workers deserve fair pay for doing one of the deadliest jobs in the pandemic.

But fear not, my fellow citizens, for our three protagonists pulled out all the stops in their campaign, asking fantastically bad-faith questions such as: Won’t stores close? Won’t prices increase? Won’t workers’ hours be cut?

Never mind the fact that Lucky has been paying its workers an extra $5 an hour since the start of the pandemic with no rise in consumer prices.

Never mind the fact that thanks to Prop. 22, which received Liccardo’s tacit endorsement, grocery stores across the state are laying off union-protected drivers and replacing them with independent contractors.

And never mind the fact that — and this can not be stressed enough — large grocery stores have plenty of money to pay their workers a fair wage.

Our protagonists (Liccardo, Mahan, Davis, lest you forget) fought back against these so-called facts and watered down the proposal to $3 an hour set to expire in 120 days.

It was a victory for the workers, for sure, but thanks to the efforts of our three councilmembers, those champions of modern robber barons, it was a small victory.

Our three “heroes” on the City Council, all of whom are endorsed by the chamber of commerce, fought back against the greed of essential workers.

Imagine the chutzpah these workers must have had to even ask for a raise after months of being rightly venerated for performing one of the most difficult jobs of the pandemic. Don’t they know San Jose is a city that pays lip service to its essential workers, not one that actually pays its essential workers?

The business-backed faction of the City Council showed us who they really work for. They don’t work for the grocery store workers who have been feeding us for months. They don’t work for San Jose’s working class. They work for Walmart and Whole Foods.

They all say essential workers deserve our gratitude. They all say we need to help those worst affected by the pandemic. But when push comes to shove, they only help those that pay them.

Gil Rodan is a San Jose resident, writer and activist.

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