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Judge OKs $4-an-hour pay boost for Seattle grocery workers

City Attorney Pete Holes said it's a "big win" for grocery store employees who have been critical during the coronavirus pandemic.

SEATTLE — A federal judge dismissed an industry lawsuit that sought to block a $4-an-hour pay boost for Seattle grocery workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association filed the lawsuit, arguing the ordinance was unconstitutional. The ordinance that requires stores with at least 500 in the city to pay frontline grocery workers $4 an hour in hazard pay was unconstitutional.

“This is a big win for grocery store employees who have been critical and vulnerable frontline workers since the start of the pandemic," city Attorney Pete Holmes said. We brought strong legal arguments to prevail today, and I’m thankful to Assistant City Attorney Jeremiah Miller for seeing us through to victory.”

The Seattle ordinance, passed unanimously by the city council and signed into law by Mayor Jenny Durkan, will last the duration of the pandemic.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour issued the ruling Thursday after hearing oral arguments, rejecting arguments by the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Food Industry Association that the pay increase interfered with collective bargaining and discriminated against large grocery stores.