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King County council members propose hazard pay for grocery workers

Following the approval of hazard pay for Seattle grocery workers, King County has a similar proposal under consideration.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The King County Council will consider legislation that would require $4 per hour hazard pay for employees at large grocery stores in unincorporated King County. 

The proposal follows an ordinance that went into effect Feb. 3 in Seattle that requires stores with 500 people or more to pay grocery workers hazard pay. That ordinance is being challenged by two grocery groups

A similar measure was approved in Burien that requires $5 an hour hazard pay for grocery workers.

“For the last year I have visited with, and thanked the checkers, stockers, butchers and deli workers at the grocery stores I shop. I have seen and heard their fatigue, and also their courage and dedication to their customers,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, who drafted the legislation. “These extraordinary times call for governments like King County to respond with extraordinary help. I am proud to stand with these frontline workers and ensure that the risks they and their families are taking, and the dedication they are showing, is reflected in our laws, and in their paychecks. Four dollars an hour is a small price to pay to ensure the continued service they are providing to our communities.”  

The legislation is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Girmay Zahilay and Dave Upthegrove. It would require hazard pay for grocery workers until county Executive Dow Constantine calls an end to the COVID-19 emergency declaration. 

“At a time when local governments are struggling to fund basic services, large grocery sites are making record profits while their low-wage employees face the hazards of working during a pandemic,” Upthegrove said. “This temporary bump in pay can alleviate the financial injustice experienced by frontline essential workers who risk their lives—and their families’ lives—without the dignity of a fair wage to support them.”