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6/6/2024 Senate OKs Lawson bill to establish limits on grocery self-checkouts
STATE HOUSE — The Senate today approved legislation from Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) to establish limits on the use of self-checkout lanes at grocery stores in Rhode Island.

The bill (2024-S 2268A) now heads to the House where Rep. Megan Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond) has introduced similar legislation (2024-H 7230).

The legislation would restrict grocery stores from having more than six self-checkouts operating at once, and require that those with self-checkouts also have a minimum of one staffed checkout per self-checkout.

Senator Lawson said she introduced the bill out concern for those who work as cashiers, and also for customers who struggle with frustrating self-checkout experiences, particularly elderly customers.

“We’ve all experienced frustration at a self-service checkout, and this experience can be far more challenging for elderly members of the community,” said Senator Lawson. “This bill would provide options for the consumer by making sure staffed checkout lanes are always available and it would improve the store environment for workers and consumers. When stores use too many self-checkout stations it can cut worker hours and leave some workers struggling to manually cover eight self-checkout stations on their own. This bill protects workers as well as consumers.”

Increased use of self-checkouts has allowed grocery stores to rely more heavily on part-time employees, positions which do not provide retail workers with a living wage or access to benefits. There are costs to the public as well, since many retail workers, particularly those with a part-time schedule, qualify and receive income-based public benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formally known as food stamps) and subsidized health care. Additionally, the move disproportionately harms people of color, who are overrepresented in cashier positions, typically the lowest-paid positions in retail businesses.

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903