In the coming weeks the Pierce County Council will consider an ordinance proposing hazard pay for grocery store employees, effective through the duration of the governor’s declared COVID-19 emergency.
Co-sponsored by councilmembers Jani Hitchen, District 6, and Ryan Mello, District 4, the ordinance as initially drafted proposes all employees of a grocery store with 500 or more employees worldwide receive an additional $4/hour of hazard pay during their shift. The ordinance applies to incorporated and unincorporated Pierce County.
“These workers have been on the frontlines for the last year and it has not been easy,” said Councilmember Hitchen. “While the proposed additional pay won’t make their jobs easier, it provides much-needed compensation for the hazards of working while facing significant exposure to COVID-19.”
Councilmember Mello added:
“With a fourth COVID surge here, rising case counts and a roll back to Phase 2 of our Healthy Washington reopening plan, it is clear our grocery workers are facing unprecedented danger by showing up to work every day. These working families face many hardships in an already low-paid environment. That’s not fair and hazard pay is the least we can do.”
Angel Gonzalez, President of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 367, thanked members Hitchen and Mello for bringing forward the proposed ordinance.
“While the grocery stores’ profits have increased tremendously this last year, our grocery workers have incurred personal unexpected costs including purchasing their own personal protection equipment, COVID-tests, additional childcare costs due to school closings, and losing pay due to illness or exposure,” Gonzalez said. “Grocery workers are vital to our communities and they deserve a safe workplace and fair pay for the risks and stress they experience daily.”
At its April 20, 2021 regular meeting Council set the legislative timeline for the proposed ordinance. The ordinance will first be reviewed by the Pierce County Council Human Services Committee in a special meeting Friday, April 30, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. It is set for final action before Council at its May 4, 2021 meeting at 3 p.m.