Oakland and Berkeley grocery stores cut off hazard pay for workers

A new night market in Richmond; Yelp hassles for local bars, more Quick Bites.

Chain grocery stores in Oakland and Berkeley, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, have stopped providing workers with pandemic-related hazard pay. Credit: Citizen reporter
  • It’s been widely reported that Alameda County COVID-19 rates are so high these days that — were the state’s color-coded reopening plan still in play — the region would be in the most restrictive purple tier. If we were indeed in that tier, emergency orders passed in Berkeley and in in Oakland would require chain grocery stores like Whole Foods, Grocery Outlet and Trader Joe’s to continue to pay employees an additional $5 per hour in hazard pay, a bump intended to help workers manage the increased risks of the pandemic. With the rise of the delta variant, those rates are arguably as high as ever, but the Oakland Post reports that those chain shops in Oakland and Berkeley stopped offering hazard pay in early July. That’s because those emergency orders specified that the region’s entry into the yellow reopening tier would end the hazard pay mandate, but now that the tier system has been dropped, those laws are useless. Berkeley and Oakland officials say that the only way to force these companies to resume hazard pay is to pass new orders, but with City Council meetings on hold through August, workers are stuck with their non-pandemic rates of pay for now.
  • Downtown Berkeley’s Las Delicias Salvadoran Restaurant opened in the former Tharaphu space last December, and has already gained a reputation for some of the most remarkable grilled pupusas around. Nelson Allejandro, the son of owners Nelson and Lorena Menjivar, told the East Bay Express that Las Delicias is using familiar Mexican menu items to lure folks in, then surprises patrons with traditional Salvadoran flavors. “We’re serving a Salvadoran-Mexican fusion — the food that we know best — that we can combine with typical Mexican dishes we know people love.”
  • Most malls can’t blame the coronavirus crisis for their closures, as the shopping complexes have been struggling for years. Richmond’s Pacific East Mall is packed with empty storefronts, for example, but Hoodline reports that the structure is pivoting to become an “indoor Asian night market,” with at least 10 new restaurants – most of which will remain open after midnight — slated for the space.
  • Berkeley’s Telegraph Business Improvement District is doing what it can to help its bars and restaurants enforce Berkeley’s mask mandate. Businesses in the area that need signs to indicate the new rules or boxes of disposable masks to pass out to patrons should call the TBID Ambassador Hotline at (510) 292-7449 to request delivery to their places of business.
Eve Batey is Berkeleyside's interim Nosh editor. Email: eve@berkeleyside.org.