In an opinion issued today, a state appellate court upheld a trial court’s rejection of an attempt by Los Angeles to implement the nation’s first worker retention ordinance for supermarkets. 

The ordinance would have required new grocery store operators to retain workers hired under the previous owner.

Known as Grocery Worker Retention Ordinance (GWRO), the ordinance becomes void unless the City decides to appeal to the California Supreme Court.  The City has already spent millions of dollars to defend the labor-supported measure.

The grocery industry, represented by the California Grocers Association, argued that the ordinance was discriminatory because it applied only to larger store formats and exempted companies with collective bargaining agreements. 

CGA’s lawyers argued that those were impermissible distinctions and thus violated the equal protection guarantees of the state and federal Constitutions.

CGA has worked with stakeholders in South Los Angeles to get new grocery stores in underserved communities for some time.  Grocers felt that the anti-grocer climate in the City made doing business there less advantageous then neighboring jurisdictions who welcomed new grocers and the tax revenue that followed. 

With the worker retention ordinance voided, the industry will likely look at opportunities with fresh eyes.