LOCAL NEWS

Grocery associations file lawsuit against Seattle to stop hazard pay

Feb 4, 2021, 6:45 AM
grocery pay...
Clark resident Jen Valencia shops for a customer as she supplements her income working for Instacart at Acme Market on April 27, 2020 in Clark, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

On the same day an extra hazard pay for grocery employees took effect in Seattle, grocery associations filed a lawsuit against the city.

The new ordinance mandates an extra $4 an hour for many workers in grocery chains and bigger stores, and was expected to remain in place for at least four months. It does not impact convenience stores or food marts selling a limited line of goods.

‘I am 100% committed’: Mayor Durkan rejects calls to veto grocery store hazard pay

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA), asks the court to declare the new ordinance void and to grant a preliminary and permanent injunction against enforcement of the ordinance.

Both grocery associations say the ordinance does not consider existing union agreements, and is unfair because other essential workers in Seattle are not getting the extra pay.

WFIA CEO Tammy Hetrick told KIRO Radio that city supermarkets also just can’t afford it.

“The council did not consult with us at all on this. Had they asked, we would have told them that most of our stores in Seattle have seen decreased sales and profits for 2020,” Hetrick said. “Many of them are losing money every day they’re open.”

“So many of our stores are already losing money and each grocer will have to evaluate their specific circumstance, and then really determine will it be higher prices? Will it be reduced hours, hiring freezes, or store closures?,” she said.

Hetrick explained that the lawsuit was filed because the city ordinance is “unfair and it’s illegal.”

“It’s creating winners and loses among the citizens, and it identifies essential workers as some more essential than others,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance is illegal in two ways. First, the associations say, by singling out certain grocers and ignoring other groups that employ essential frontline workers, it “violates the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution’s Equal Protection Clauses.” Second, the ordinance is preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act, “which protects the integrity of the collective bargaining process.”

“The City Council has inserted itself into the collective-bargaining process, which it has no legal right to do,” the associations explain.

Safeway, Albertsons to soon begin administering COVID vaccine

Additionally, Hetrick says the new law doesn’t make workers safer as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our workers and our customers, and this ordinance does nothing to improve that,” she said.

“If the city really was concerned about the safety, they would give us the support that we need to convince the governor to expedite vaccinations for essential workers,” she added. “Instead, they’re just requiring a $4 an hour increase, which doesn’t do anything to help with safety.”

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

Local News

(KIRO 7)...
KIRO 7 News Staff

35 Marysville teachers receive layoff notices after voters reject levy extensions

Thirty-five teachers in the Marysville School District received layoff notices last week, after voters rejected levy measures that would have funded 14-18% of the district’s overall budget.
1 day ago
...
Gwen Baumgardner

Car thefts are on the rise in the region

In Seattle, there have been 2,075 vehicle thefts already this year. Seattle police reported that approximately 86% of stolen cars are recovered.
2 days ago
Kirkland, WA (Getty Images)...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Tax hikes to join booming property values in East King County

Property values in select cities in East King County have skyrocketed, leading King County Assessor John Wilson to warn homeowners about noticeable increases in property taxes.
2 days ago
Pike Place...
MyNorthwest Staff

Enraged Pike Place motorist pleads not guilty to assault with a motor vehicle charges

A man arrested for an assault stemming from a Pike Place incident pleads not guilty in King County Superior Court.
3 days ago
tukwila...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

Prolific Seattle-area smash-and-grab ATM thieves formerly arrested for murder

60 robberies involving trucks driving into local stores to steal ATMs and cash registers may be solved with the arrest of two men at a Tukwila motel Friday morning.
3 days ago
schools...
Dalton Day

Rival to First Student exposes Seattle Schools’ fumbled bidding war

First Student's competition has accused Seattle Public Schools of “arbitrarily and improperly” awarding a district contract to First Student.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Grocery associations file lawsuit against Seattle to stop hazard pay