Seattle ends COVID hazard pay for grocery store employees
The Seattle City Council has voted to end the COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery store employees.
The Seattle Times reports that the board voted 5-2 on Tuesday, in the absence of board members Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda, to repeal a policy passed in early 2021 that required grocery stores to pay employees an additional $4 of l hour in risk premium.
The council had considered lifting this requirement on several occasions since its initial adoption, even voting to end the hazard pay in December before the peak of the omicron variant and subsequent veto by then-Mayor Jenny Durkan. but ultimately voted to end the requirement on Tuesday at the request. of Mayor Bruce Harrell.
“Grocers were a specific class of worker to receive hazard pay at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the need to access grocery stores at a time when many other food businesses and non-profit providers were closed,” a spokesperson for Harrell said last week, adding that the policy was no longer needed.
During each of the last two council meetings, dozens of community members have urged the council not to end the requirement, citing the continued risk of COVID workers face.
Council members Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant opposed the end of hazard pay.