On the heels of a battle over minimum wage for fast food workers, now Seattle’s Mayor Mike McGinn is taking aim at a national grocery chain employee pay and holding up its plans to open a store in West Seattle.
Whole Foods wants to build a new 41,000 square foot store in West Seattle. It would be built on the vacant lot that used to make up the old Huling Brothers car dealership along Fauntleroy. The company and the developer have asked the city to give them an alley along the property as part of the project.
Mayor McGinn said the city will not give Whole Foods the alley, holding up the project, until it can prove to him that it pays its employees a decent wage. “Because the proposed anchor tenant has significantly lower wages and benefits than other groceries in the area, we’ve decided that it does not meet our public benefit test, the mayor told KIRO 7.
Mayor McGinn said Whole Foods needs to come back to the table and agree to pay its people more and maybe then he’d recommend giving up the alley. “I’m setting a new standard on this one in saying that we are going to look at the wages and benefits of the company that would like to get our public property,” he said.
Whole Foods fired back at Mayor McGinn on Tuesday saying his numbers on pay are inaccurate. It says it pays its workers fair and livable wages and provides great benefits like health care and store discounts. It said the average Seattle Whole Foods employee makes over $16 an hour.
A quick web check on salaries on employment web site Glassdoor.com shows salaries at Whole Foods well below that figure. Most make $9-15 an hour, but those numbers are self-reported and are not a full look at all salaries.
Though the mayor is putting his foot down on this issue, it will be up to the Seattle City Council to decide if the city will give Whole Foods the alley to build its new store.