Topics: News, Press

Senate Says Yes to Supporting Regulating Self-Checkout, Protecting Workers and Customers

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council, California Labor Federation and the Prosecutors Alliance of California applauded the California State Senate for passing SB 1446 (Smallwood-Cuevas), which will protect workers and the public by ensuring safe staffing levels at grocery and drug-retail stores and regulating self-checkout machines. It will also put in place guardrails to prevent worker displacement and harm to workers and the public when retail employers adopt new AI-enabled check-out technology.
“UFCW members have had to sit by and watch as our employers implement technology designed to eliminate workers’ jobs while putting the public and workers at more risk,” said Andrea Zinder, president, UFCW Local 324. “Companies want to use self-checkout to drastically cut staffing and reduce labor costs, but this reduction in front-line grocery workers has created a range of problems for retailers, workers, and the public, including overworked cashiers and an increase in workplace violence and retail theft. SB 1446 will protect good jobs and keep workers safe by ensuring there are safe staffing levels for cashiers and regulating self-checkout. We’re proud the California Senate supported this important legislation.”
In 2011, California passed AB 183 (Ma) in law, which banned the sale of alcohol via self-checkout machines in response to “evidence of inadequate staffing, inconsistent monitoring, and technological failures” at self-checkout that increased illegal purchases of alcohol and harmed public health.1 Since then, self-checkout has rapidly spread in retail grocery and drug stores, with some stores that do not sell alcohol having eliminated checkout staffed by human workers.
“Replacing workers with automated checkout machines has undermined safety for workers and the public. No one feels safe in stores without employees,” said Lorena Gonzalez, Chief Officer of the California Labor Federation, representing 1,300 unions and 2.3 million union members. “In every industry, workers are demanding a say in the use of new technologies to prevent displacement. This bill guarantees safe staffing levels and provides new tools to ensure that technology is not used to destroy good jobs or leave communities without adequate services.”
Self-checkout machines accounted for under 30% of total transactions in 2022, but cost food retailers more than $10 billion in lost profits annually. Nearly 7% of self-checkout transactions have at least some partial shrink compared to 0.32% with cashiers.2
“We commend the Senate for passing SB 1446, which will stop retail theft before it happens. This bill protects workers, deters individuals from stealing, and provides a better, safer experience for customers. It’s a win for our communities,” said Cristine Soto DeBerry, Executive Director of Prosecutors Alliance Action.
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1  Self-Checkout: Is it Reliable for Selling Alcohol?. Community Economic Development Clinic, UCLA, LAANE. 2009. https://laane.org/research/self-checkout-is-it-reliable/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2024
Contact:
(UFCW) Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]