Friday, November 13, 2009
Supreme Court to Rule on Grocery Workers Retention Ordinance
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether state law pre-empts a Los Angeles city ordinance requiring a purchaser of a large grocery store to retain the existing workforce for 90 days.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, voted unanimously to grant review of the July 30 decision in California Grocers Association v. Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 51. This week’s conference was held on Tuesday due to the Veteran’s Day holiday.
Div. Five of this district’s Court of Appeal upheld Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau’s ruling that the city could not enact such an ordinance because the Legislature has occupied the field by enacting the California Retail Food Code, subject to specific exceptions in the code.
City officials urged the high court to consider their contention that the ordinance, enacted in 2005, falls within the code’s exception for health and safety regulations. They claim that by requiring retention of the existing work force, they are guaranteeing that employees familiar with procedures for safe handling of food products are on hand to train their replacements during the transition.
The grocery operators claim the law, which was enacted shortly after the announcement that the Albertsons chain was being sold, was solely enacted as job-protection measure. Dau and the Court of Appeal agreed, and also concluded that the National Labor Relations Act pre-empts the ordinance—backed by organized labor and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy—because it allows unionized stores to negotiate alternative arrangements through collective bargaining.
In other conference action, the justices agreed to decide whether a trial judge, after conducting an in camera hearing to determine whether the defense is entitled to receive documents produced in response to a subpoena duces tecum under Penal Code Sec. 1326, may order that the hearing transcript be unsealed, thereby allowing the prosecution to discover the documents even if the defense does not intend to use them at trial. This district’s Div. Six said such an order is improper absent “exceptional circumstances,” which were not found to exist in Kling v. Superior Court (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 223.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company