Trying to make it tougher for state retailers – Daily News

Some Californians remember a time in the dusty past when there was no such thing as self-service at gas stations.

Motorists pulled up to the pump, a friendly boy in uniform and a top cap appeared at your window, asked if you wanted ethyl or regular, and he checked your oil and washed your windshield while filling your tank.

Those days are gone. Some may regret it. But the fact is, fuel in our state would be even more expensive than it already is if drivers had to pay pump jockeys’ wages.

We are at such an inflection point in retail and grocery right now. For years, shoppers have had the option of self-service at stores across the state. Some still abhor all barcode scanning. Others enjoy the speed and convenience. But we’d wager that few Californians would feel the need for a law that makes it much more difficult for stores to offer a choice.

But unfortunately, you can almost always count on our California legislature to still create a bill in an attempt to thwart customer convenience and good business practices.

In this case, the proposed law is SB 1446 by Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles. It’s yet another attempt by state politicians to try to tell businesses how to staff their own stores and would cost California retail nearly $500 million a year, according to an economic analysis.

The ill-conceived proposal would seek to strip grocers and drugstores of the right to offer customers self-service options unless complicated new regulations are followed, including having no more than two self-service stations supervised by an employee and requiring that employee to have no duties other than that supervision .

What makes the legislature imagine it knows how to run a store in the difficult, expensive retail environment of 2024?

The California Chamber of Commerce hired Encina Advisors to do the financial impact analysis, and that group estimates that over 10,000 additional treasurers may be needed statewide to comply with the mandate. Sacramento simply has no business interfering with the employment practices of private companies in such a way.

SB 1446 also absurdly limits the type of items and the number of them that can go through self-checkout, as if the state senate had any expertise in that.

“While it is important to consider the potential impacts of new technologies on employees and consumers, overly burdensome regulations, such as those proposed in this bill, could stifle business growth, innovation and competitiveness in an increasingly digital economy,” the chamber said.

The Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee has already expressed other reservations about the bill, noting that “it included as ‘consequences’ any type of technology that could ‘significantly affect’ a worker’s core job. Arguably, any new technology, including changes to cooling systems that do not need to be monitored as often or motorized cart movers that make it less physically demanding for workers to pick up and return carts to stores, require a 60-day notice before implementation.”

This bill is co-sponsored by the California Labor Federation and the United Food and Commercial Workers. It is opposed by the California Grocers Association and the California Retailers Association.

You would also oppose it, as would we, if you had to effectively run a brick-and-mortar business in the face of so much online competition.

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