Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo

Auburn to consider hazard pay for grocery workers at large stores

Seattle, Burien among cities that adopted pay hike due to COVID-19

Seattle and Burien and other cities have recently passed ordinances pertaining to implementing mandatory hazard pay for employees of large grocery stores within city limits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, Auburn City Councilmember Larry Brown wants the city to consider something like that in Auburn.

“We’re all very fortunate that retail grocery workers stayed on the job and made available the food that we all need to buy when we go to the grocery store,” Brown began at the close of the March 8 council study session.

Noting that Seattle’s ordinance provides for $4-an-hour hazard pay, and Burien’s ordinance provides for $5 an hour, Brown said, “I was hoping that we could look at the potential of passing a similar ordinance here in Auburn to both help what are normally low-wage workers dealing with very difficult health issues … every day, and I was hoping our council would take a look at it.”

The King County Council approved on March 9 a $4 per hour pay hike for grocery stores in unincorporated King County.

Brown, who is also president of the Washington State Labor Council, said several Auburn residents had suggested the idea to him.

City attorney Kendra Comeau will draw up a draft ordinance and resolution, and staff will provide information for council members to consider at a future study session.

Generally such ordinances affect only businesses with a minimum of 500 employees and a minimum of 10,000 square feet of store size, which immediately cuts out mom-and-pop outlets.

The larger grocery outlets have fought the measures as too expensive.

Grocery Workers Union UFCW Local 21 lobbied for the ordinances in Seattle and Burien and could take up the cause in Auburn.

On March 9, Tom Geiger, public information officer for UFCW Local 21, said he hadn’t had time to gather much information about the issue in Auburn, but he was able to offer some generalities.

“All of (these ordinances) are temporary in nature, that is, they are intended to last for a period of time when the emergencies are in place in different communities, and so most have time periods of, like, three to four months as cities assess the status of emergency orders,” Geiger said.

“The public has been very much in support of these as well. It’s unfortunate that the companies haven’t stepped up and done this voluntarily, hence the need for moving though local councils,” Geiger said.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

t
ABC Supply selects Tardiff as Kent location manager

Wholesale distributor of roofing, siding, windows, gutters

t
The Goddard School opens first Kent location for preschoolers

National franchised system offers enrollment for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years

t
Airways Brewing Bistro & Beer Garden in Kent to celebrate 10th anniversary

Special menu items, deals Nov. 5-7; Airways to expand patio seating in 2022

t
Kent-based Blue Origin helping to develop commercial space station

Partners with Sierra Space, Boeing and others on project

t
Nana’s Southern Kitchen opens Covington location

Restaurant started in Kent in 2019

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Is cryptocurrency really an investment? | Guest column

Undoubtedly you have heard about the new form of money known as… Continue reading

Courtesy of Taco Time NW
Taco Time Northwest tries raising wages to $20 hours

Local fast-food chain will pilot the new wage increase at three King County locations.

t
Starting wages at Dick’s Drive-In to be $19 per hour

Restaurant seeks more hires to fill out shifts

Katsu Burger’s Tokyo Classic with Nori Fries. Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing
Katsu Burger opens new Kent location

The restaurant offers breaded hamburgers inspired by traditional Japanese comfort food.

t
Kent business owner takes over as Impact Washington board chairman

Craig Hanela, president of Buyken Metal Products, replaces Joe Heim

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Courtesy Photo, Westfield Southcenter
Westfield Southcenter to hold job fair Sept. 25 in Tukwila

More than 20 businesses looking for employees