Gov. Brown Signs Grocery Worker Retention Bill

On the last day to take action, Governor Brown signed AB 359 (D-Gonzalez) into law. The bill will take effect on January 1, 2016.

Specifically, AB 359 creates onerous and largely unworkable requirements that a new owner retain eligible employees for a period of at least 90 days and provide written performance evaluations at the 90-day mark. During the mandated retention period, employees may only be fired for cause. In a brand new interpretation, it appears that a new owner may also be required to honor any collective bargaining agreement in place at the store location prior to the sale.

Perhaps most disturbing, the bill applies only to stores “primarily” selling groceries. There are significant concerns that will not include several major competitors in the grocery marketplace as general retail stores move more aggressively into the grocery space.

CGA is extremely disappointed the Governor chose to sign this poorly drafted measure. Unfortunately, given all its shortcomings, AB 359 actually creates a greater likelihood that companies will be forced to shutter locations that are no longer viable rather than identify a successor to operate in the location. Jobs will be lost, communities will see grocery access reduced, and in some cases food deserts will be created.