Seattle City Council delays lifting hazard pay for grocery employees

SEATTLE — In a Seattle City Council briefing on Aug. 9, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda delayed a vote on an amendment to legislation— passed Jan. 25 of this year— which secured hazard pay for Seattle frontline grocery workers.

The amendment would have lifted the hazard pay requirement in the legislation while keeping aspects of it intact, such as certain safety requirements.

The vote is now scheduled to take place on Sept. 13, at the earliest.

In the briefing, Mosqueda made it clear that the legislation was not intended to provide hazard pay in perpetuity. It was intended to secure hazard pay as frontline grocery store workers encounter health and safety risks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This motion to delay the vote on the removal of the hazard pay comes as King County is experiencing a surge in the delta variant of COVID-19.

“Given the latest CDC guidelines as of last week, we now know that fully vaccinated individuals can absolutely transmit COVID-19 if they are not properly wearing a mask, and the highly contagious delta variant makes up over 90% of cases that we are currently seeing in our country,” Mosqueda said during the council briefing.

“We are going to continue to review the best public health information as we continue to look at this legislation,” she added. “We want to protect not only frontline grocery workers but also the members of the public that they also interact with.”

The legislation has not been without controversy over the last year. It was subject to a lawsuit in February— later dismissed— on behalf of the Northwest Grocery Institute. It was also cited in QFC’s decision to close its locations in Wedgewood and Capitol Hill.

“This is an important piece of legislation that we passed in this city. It is also similar legislation that was passed up and down the West Coast and in our regional city partners as well,” Mosqueda affirmed.

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