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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to adopt an ordinance requiring national grocery and drug retail employers in unincorporated areas of the county to pay workers an additional $5 per hour in hazard pay for the next 120 days.

A Food4Less employee pushes carts past supermarket workers Feb.

3 gathered to protest in front of the supermarket in Long Beach, after a decision by owner Kroger to close two supermarkets. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell co-authored the motion that takes effect immediately and applies to store chains that are publicly traded or have at least 300 employees nationwide and more than 10 employees per store.

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“Grocery and drug retail employees have continued to report to work and serve our communities, despite the ongoing hazards and dangers of being exposed to COVID-19,” Solis said. “These workers, many of whom include older adults and single mothers, have put their lives on the line since the beginning of the pandemic to keep our food supply chain running and provide access to medicine our families need.”

Solis said retailers have experienced increased profits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that workers were not getting the support they needed.

“Many are working in fear and without adequate financial support, while their employers continue to see profits grow and top executives receive steep pay bonuses,” she said.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted against the measure, citing unintended consequences and a concern that the ordinance only covered a “small sliver” of the essential workforce.

“I have concerns about the unintended consequences that will result from this board directing salaries in the private sector,” she said. “Stores can pass on additional labor costs to the public through price increases. However, they may also reduce the hours of the impacted workers or decrease the number of employees that they hire.”

READ MORE: Orange County Now Meets 2 Key Metrics To Move From Purple Tier Into Red Tier

Earlier this month, Kroger announced that it would close two of its Long Beach stores — a Food4Less and a Ralphs — in response to a Long Beach ordinance requiring a $4 per hour salary boost for some workers.

And the California Grocers Association has filed federal lawsuits against Long Beach, West Hollywood and Montebello, seeking to declare mandated hazard pay as invalid and unconstitutional.

“Extra pay mandates will have severe unintended consequences on not only grocers, but on their workers and their customers,” CGA President and CEO Ron Fong said Tuesday during a hearing in the case. “A $5 per hour extra pay mandate amounts to a 28% increase in labor costs. That’s huge. Grocers will not be able to absorb those costs and negative repercussions are unavoidable.”

A Los Angeles federal judge heard arguments Tuesday, but made no ruling in the association’s request for a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of Long Beach’s ordinance.

Solis said the county’s emergency ordinance mirrors the one approved by the city of Los Angeles. The ordinance also allows employees to choose paid leave in lieu of extra pay if the additional income would cause them to lose access to public benefits.

MORE NEWS: Newsom Signs COVID Relief Package That Will Send $600 Payments To Nearly 6 Million Californians

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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In Seal Beach, spat over cherished historic rail car hits new level of cranky

Old Town Seal Beach can be a fishbowl, where everyone has an opinion about how best to preserve its Main Street, USA, charm.

Witness the debate surrounding Red Car No. 1734, a remnant of Southern California’s past that has sat on a greenbelt across from the library for five decades.

In recent years, some Seal Beach residents have grumbled that the one-time rail car desperately needed repairs. Last fall, vocal critic Elizabeth Kane started a petition demanding that the Seal Beach Historical Society – which owns the antiquity – change leadership. Almost 700 residents signed.

“People were complaining about how the Red Car looked,” said Mayor Joe Kalmick, who represents Old Town. “We were watching it deteriorate.”

However, the husband-and-wife executives who run the Historical Society deny all allegations of neglect.

“Over the past year, we spent $10,000 out of our own pockets repainting it and fixing a leaky roof,” said board president Marie Antos.

Her husband, Charles Antos, worked as a Seal Beach city planner, later serving eight years on City Council. Marie Antos said accusations against them amount to a “political takeover” based on old grudges.

“Now, everyone in this town wants to be the King or the Queen,” she said. “We’ve been directors for years with no problems.”

Kalmick dismissed the car’s recent face lift, calling it a “horrible paint job.”

The ongoing dispute between officials and the power couple came to a head in late January when the city notified the Historical Society it was canceling the $1-a-year lease for use of public land. “It was our only leverage,” Kalmick said.

That bit of hardball meant the Antoses had 30 days to either relocate the Red Car or sell it.

On Monday, March 1, the Seal Beach Lion’s Club announced an agreement to buy the car for $1,501. The purchase includes some 20 feet of defunct trolley track and a faded crossing sign.

“We will be the Red Car’s custodian for a while, but I don’t see long-term ownership,” said Lions Club vice president Scott Weir. “We’re glad to help how ever we can.”

For the Antoses, the deal constituted an act of revenge. In November of last year, Seal Beach officials offered to take the Red Car off the Historical Society’s hands for $10,000.

“The Lions Club is the better choice,” Antos sniffed.

Kalmick called the Antoses’ move “pure spite.”

“At least this Seal Beach landmark will now be taken care of by a responsible organization,” he said.

The lone Red Car symbolizes a romantic yesteryear.

For the first half of the 20th century, the intricate Pacific Electric Railway connected Orange County beach communities with cities in the Los Angeles area. But by the 1950s, cars, freeways and booming land values had usurped the ingenious mass transit system.

Most of the perky Red Cars wound up in junk yards or were dumped into the ocean to become man-made reefs. A lucky few were rescued as souvenirs.

Seal Beach’s is the only Red Car on display in Orange County. Built in 1925, it was a “tower car,” used to repair electric lines rather than to carry passengers.

On one hand, its enchanting presence means a lot to locals. On the other hand, the Red Car gradually became a familiar sight somewhat taken for granted.

For a couple of hours twice a month, it served as a museum – where visitors could view memorabilia such as vintage photos, period clothing, posters, newspaper clips and Native American artifacts.

Yet limited access and, perhaps, growing lack of interest distracted many residents from ever stepping inside.

Then over the past year, the coronavirus made the car off-limits altogether.

As of now, there’s not much to see, anyway. Technically, the Historical Society owns the contents of the car – much of which have been donated over the years.

A week before the sale closed, the Antoses packed up all the items and hauled them to a storage container. They even sawed off a Historical Society park bench implanted outside the Red Car and took it, too.

And they didn’t stop there. They asked City Hall to return photos, Kalmick said. And they repossessed their coffeemaker from the Senior Center.

“They wanted to exact whatever punishment they could from the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Antoses remain at the helm of the Historical Society – saying they hope to find a new place to exhibit the treasures. Eventually, someone may need to form another nonprofit to take ownership of the Red Car.

“They are very obstinate,” Kalmick remarked.

Marie Antos said she and her husband, both longtime residents, simply love Seal Beach and its history. “And I have always been fascinated with trains,” she said.

Antos alleged that Historical Society members “are so angry about how the city has treated us.” But many residents wonder who those members are since it has been some time since the the Antoses released a members list.

“A lot of us paid $200 early on to be lifetime members, but we haven’t received any communication from the Historical Society in years,” said Mike Buhbe. “There is no transparency.”

When the city inquired about a list of members last year, the Antoses balked. “Do they ask other organizations in Seal Beach for that information?” Marie Antos said. “I doubt it.”

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At least some of those members now want back the keepsakes they bequeathed.

“We gave them placards that hung in our store,” said Julie Konowitz, whose family owned the venerable John’s Food King Market, which closed in 2002.

“People donated their artifacts because we thought they’d be safe at a museum,” Konowitz said. “We feel burned.”

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