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Federal Way approves $3 an hour hazard pay for grocery store workers

Small grocers may apply for a grant to make up the difference in pay, according to the ordinance.
Credit: littlewolf1989 - stock.adobe.com
Cashier in a supermarket wearing mask and gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — The Federal Way City Council voted to mandate a $3 per hour hazard pay raise for frontline grocery store workers. 

The ordinance goes into effect on May 15. Employees at Safeway, Walmart, Winco and Fred Meyer will get the raise. Smaller grocers like Grocery Outlet are also impacted but may apply for grant money through the American Rescue Plan to make up the difference, according to the ordinance. 

The ordinance originally proposed a hazard pay of $2.50 an hour, but it was increased to $3 per hour and approved, according to a release from the city.

Businesses already paying their workers hazard pay will only be required to raise it if it does not meet the minimum required amount of $3 an hour on top of an employee's regular wages. 

Hazard pay ensures grocery employees are compensated for the "substantial risks" of working during the pandemic and promotes retention of workers in vital roles, according to the ordinance. 

Hazard pay will be in effect for a minimum of 90 days, after which the city council will review the need for hazard pay on July 6. At that council meeting, the ordinance will either be repealed or extended. 

Council members Martin Moore, Greg Baruso, Leandra Craft, Hoang V. Tran and Lydia Assefa-Dawson voted in favor. Council members Susan Honda and Linda Kochmar voted against it. 

Pierce County also approved hazard pay for grocery store workers, but it was later vetoed by Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.