Seattle kills $4-per-hour hazard pay for grocery workers, effective next month

Aug 2, 2022, 6:04 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 1:39 pm

(Photo by Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images)...

(Photo by Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images)

(Photo by Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images)

Seattle’s city council voted 5-2 to end mandatory pandemic hazard pay for grocery store workers.

The end to the extra $4 per hour workers are receiving takes effect 30 days after the legislation is approved by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

When the $4-per-hour hazard pay was imposed, the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA) and the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, accusing the city of violating both the constitution and collective bargaining rights by passing the $4-per-hour “Hazard Pay” wage increase, which was applied during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This coincides with Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision last Friday, announcing he will rescind 12 decrees under his COVID-19 emergency authority, saying they are no longer needed in response to the pandemic.

Inslee to rescind 12 emergency decrees related to COVID-19

PCC Community Markets reported an 86% reduction in dividend payments for its members, directly attributable to the $4 hazard pay imposed by the King County Council and the Seattle City Council in February 2021.

According to the Washington Policy Center, a free-market think tank located in Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, and Richland, increases to hazard pay would result in store closures and job losses.

Councilmembers Tammy J. Morales and Kshama Sawant opposed ending the increase in pay while Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda were absent during the vote.

“As the BA.5 COVID variant surges, and as inflation stretches workers’ paychecks to the breaking point, Mayor Harrell, big business, and the City Council Democrats have shamefully cut grocery workers’ wages by $4 an hour,” said Sawant at the council meeting. “Grocery workers and all frontline workers have made incredible sacrifices during the pandemic, and they deserve a raise, not a pay cut.”

Some citizens spoke in favor of keeping hazard pay during the meeting’s public comment period, including Seattle grocery worker Anne Woodford, who called out council members for still working remotely.

“For Seattle city council to be calling this vote to end hazard pay for the seventh time while a majority of you are working remotely is shameful,” Woodford said during the public comment section of the council meeting. “If you want to end hazard pay, get back to the office, show up in person, and put yourself at risk with the general public like what grocery store workers do every day.”

She said nearly 20% of workers at her store caught COVID last month.

One councilmember stated a new union contract has been negotiated, meaning many store workers will get at least $4 an hour more starting next month, but Sawant countered this, claiming it’s untrue.

“The new contract states that the 2022 pay increases are ‘effective on the first day of the contract or the first Sunday after Hazard pay ends, whichever is later, but no later than Aug. 28, 2022.’ In other words, union workers will get their deserved pay increases on Aug. 28 — which is before this bill would even take effect — whether or not Seattle’s hazard pay remains,” said Sawant.

Providence nurses demand hazard pay amid staffing shortage

Last month, several nurses from Providence Regional Medical Center spoke to the Everett City Council yesterday, asking for the city to mandate hazard pay for nurses during the current staffing shortage at the hospital.

MyNorthwest News

Image: The Supreme Court building can be seen from a distance on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washin...

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks, gun accessory

The Supreme Court has struck down a ban on bump stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

2 hours ago


Julia Dallas

90 Lynnwood residents — mostly seniors — on verge of homelessness

Seattle Morning News' Dave Ross speaks with the Lynnwood City Council president on protecting residents who live in manufactured home communities and are seeing massive rent increases on the land their homes sit on. 

16 hours ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

20 hours ago

Image: Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloo...

Associated Press

Unanimous Supreme Court preserves access to widely used abortion medication

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to an abortion medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of U.S. procedures.

22 hours ago

starbucks supreme court...

Associated Press

Supreme Court, siding with Starbucks, makes it harder for NLRB to win court orders in labor disputes

The Supreme Court case began in February 2022, when Starbucks fired seven workers who were trying to unionize their Tennessee store.

23 hours ago

seattle FBI...

Frank Sumrall

SWAT arrests armed woman after she barricades herself inside Seattle FBI building

An armed woman barricaded herself in the visitor lobby of the FBI Seattle building in downtown Seattle Wednesday afternoon.

1 day ago

Seattle kills $4-per-hour hazard pay for grocery workers, effective next month