Seattle Mayor To Veto Council’s Grocery Store Hazard Pay Repeal

SEATTLE — Seattle’s mandatory hazard pay ordinance, which mandates extra wages for many grocery store workers, will remain in place after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced she planned to veto legislation that would have ended the program next month. The ordinance applies to larger grocery chains with at least 500 employees and requires that workers receive $4 in added hourly wages.

The council approved hazard pay unanimously in January and extended it three times, which council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda noted was longer than any other city in the United States. On Dec. 13, councilmembers voted 8-0 to end the program, with Mosqueda pledging to work toward more permanent solutions.

As The Stranger reports, some grocery store workers said ending hazard pay would reduce their income by nearly 20 percent.

On Wednesday, Durkan said she would veto the hazard pay repeal in light of the omicron variant, citing King County data that shows case counts up nearly 150 percent in just the last seven days.

“Now is not the time to roll back the pay for those critical front-line workers,” Durkan said. “These last two years in the pandemic have taken a toll on every person, family, and business in our city, but at every turn Seattle has risen to the challenge by taking steps to protect each other, even when it was hard. In a time that there are no good choices, there are decisions we can make to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of our residents, and hazard pay is one of the key city policies that have supported workers who have supported all of us.”

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who was not present for the repeal vote, called the council’s move “a slap in the face” for thousands of workers and called on her colleagues to expand the pay to all essential workers.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Mosqueda said she supported the mayor’s veto, citing the rapid spread of omicron since the repeal was passed.

Source: Bellevue Patch