An activist group on Thursday called for Los Angeles leaders to enact "basic standards" for grocery store operation in the city.

The Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores convened a panel to highlight the lack of upscale and major grocery store chains in South L.A. and East L.A. and the spread of non-union food retailers. The Alliance, a group of union, community and environmental activists, wants city leaders to enact stricter regulations on grocery stores in the city.

The panel wants L.A. officials to enact ordinances and regulations that will lead grocery chains to open more stores in South and East L.A.

Panel members also want to require all food store operators to meet certain health and safety standards and establish "professional job standards" to protect grocery store workers. The panel also calls upon grocery store operators to provide "quality health benefits" to all employees.

The last two points are a direct swipe at the spread of non-union grocers in the L.A. area. The Alliance is currently mounting a campaign to convince non-union British grocer Tesco to adopt a community benefits agreement covering all of its new stores in the L.A. area.

In making these recommendations, the panel noted that there were 13 grocery chains and high-end food retail stores in five ZIP codes in West L.A., but only four such stores in five ZIP codes in South L.A.

"The refusal of major chains to locate in underserved communities deprives residents of quality foods, basic services, opportunities to lead sustainable lives and finally, higher paying jobs," the report says.

The Alliance's recommendations are likely to receive a favorable reception at City Hall, where City Council members and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have often acted at the behest of union allies. Previously, the council enacted a grocery worker retention ordinance banning new store owners from firing employees for 90 days after a sale and has adopted restrictive conditions for Wal-Mart and other big box retailers that sell food.

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