SEATTLE – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) issued the following statement today in support of continuing the Grocery Store Worker Hazard Pay unanimously passed by Council earlier this year:
“I am proud to have passed and led the first in the state Hazard Pay for Grocery workers in Seattle, and proud to have extended the Hazard Pay three times as data on COVID evolved. Working with UFCW 21 earlier this year, we were able to ensure that grocery store employees received temporary hazard pay as compensation for the work they have done and continue to do on the frontlines of our pandemic. While other cities repealed their hazard pay mandates after 120 days, Seattle has kept ours in place three times longer than anywhere else in the nation, noting that if data changed so would the policy.
In the last week, the emergence, prevalence and severity of COVID has increased due to the Omicron variant. We have also received new public health guidance and advice, evolving as late as last Friday. We are now seeing the effects the Omicron variant will have on our population’s health and the elevated risk grocery store workers will face in the months ahead.
It’s with these new developments that hazard pay will remain in place. However the best way to protect workers from hazardous conditions in the long-run is to improve safety, training and workplace protections. UFCW21 union grocery store members and employers recently announced a joint effort last week that will have a much longer impact than hazard pay. Hazard pay was always intended to be temporary before the vaccines and other safety improvements were widely deployed – what we need now is lasting policies to worker safety, training and wages, which are permanent when bargained.”
ABOUT HAZARD PAY FOR GROCERY STORE WORKERS
Councilmember Mosqueda worked closely with grocery store worker unions earlier this year to sponsor a bill requiring hazard pay. In January, the City Council unanimously passed the bill, requiring grocery employees in Seattle to receive hazard pay of $4 per hour during the COVID-19 emergency.