Retail workers would get double pay on Thanksgiving under California bill

Retail workers

Workers huddle for a meeting in preparation for Black Friday at a Target store in Los Angeles last year.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A proposal to require large retailers to pay their employees double when they work on Thanksgiving squeaked through the state Assembly on Wednesday.

After the bill failed last summer, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) hemmed in her proposal to make it apply only to grocers and retailers with more than 500 employees.

Gonzalez, in her closing remarks, appealed to her colleagues’ values.

Thanksgiving is a day “which we have said as a country should be a holiday, a day for family,” she said. “And yet every single Thanksgiving we see more and more retailers opening up and requiring, at the threat of losing your job, that you show up to work.”


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But opponents of the measure said it would unfairly harm employers.

Even with the revisions, “It’s still a narrowly tailored bad bill,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach).

The measure passed with a bare majority of 41 votes and now heads to the Senate. Gonzalez was able to pick up some Democrats who were previously against the legislation. Some business-aligned Democrats including Adam Gray of Merced and Mike Gipson of Carson voted in favor of the bill.


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