Posted on May 17, 2024

California Lawmakers Seek to Limit Self-Checkout to Reduce Theft, Combat Racism

Kenneth Schrupp, Center Square, May 13, 2024

California lawmakers who say self-checkouts, not thieves, are responsible for theft now want to limit the use of self-checkout machines. The union sponsoring the bill says there should be one employee for every two self-checkout stands, which would only be available for those purchasing 10 items or less, and that the use of anti-theft devices is a product of “racial bias.”

Opponents say theft is caused by thieves, not self-checkout machines, and that a new requirement for “worker and consumer impact assessment” for every new technology used would harm the state’s economy.


United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that sponsored SB 1446 and would gain significant numbers of new members from the bill’s provisions, argues self-checkout, not thieves, are to blame for theft.


The bill also bans items with theft-deterrence measures from being purchased at self-checkout, even with an employee deactivating such a device. The union, which seems to aim to reduce the number of locked up items through the bill by increasing labor costs for deactivating anti-theft devices, blames racism, not theft, for the use of anti-theft devices.

“The types of products that are locked up, and in which stores, also indicate racial bias, rightfully angering customers who see that stores are unfairly targeting them,” the union continued.