Noting that we have turned an important corner on the COVID-19pandemic, and recognizing that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are readilyavailable to all who seek them, the Burien City Council has declared an end to emergency hazard pay adopted on Feb. 8, 2021. For the past 16 months, a handful of grocery stores in the City of Burien have been required to pay an additional $5per hour for all workers.
Tammie Hetrick, President and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA), representing the state's independent grocers, convenience stores, and suppliers, said council's decision recognizes the shift in where communities are with the pandemic. We have all returned to pre-pandemic activities in our everyday lives, and that includes grocery shopping. Under these ongoing mandates, small, family-run grocers are being crushed under the weight of these mandatory pay increases,” said Hetrick.
“Our industry has been unfairly singled out for this extra pay, and we are deeply appreciative for the City of Burien’srecognition that we have turned a corner and are no longer operating in a pandemic emergency,” added Hetrick.
“As all private and public employers are urging employees to come back to work, it is time to remove these arbitrary and mandatory wage mandates that only apply to a small segment of the grocery store community,” said AmandaDalton, President and CEO of the Northwest Grocery Association (NWGA).
Monday’s action by the council also helps implement a newly ratified contract with grocery labor union UFCW 3000. The newly bargained contract provides pay raises, benefit increases, pension benefit increases, and safety benefits to the work-force. The contract was effective May 7, 2022; however, it is currently delayed as it recognizes the high cost of paying a mandatory emergency hazard pay wage. As part of the labor agreement, workers who are currently compensated under a mandatory hazard pay ordinance cannot receive the wages outlined within the new contract. As such, they must wait until fall or until the hazard pay ordinance is repealed.
“Our workforce is ready to receive all the benefits due to them in the ratified contracts. Last night, the City of Burien took important action to allow the bargained agreement, where employee voices were present to determine worker wages, not a city ordinance that unfairly targets a portion of the industry. We hope the cities of Seattle, Olympia, Edmonds, and Bellinghamtake similar action in the coming weeks,” said Dalton. “It’s time we move forward and beyond the pandemicregulations.”
About the Washington Food Industry Association
The Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA) is dedicated to promoting and protecting the independent, community-focused grocery and convenience store industry and its suppliers. Founded in 1899, the WFIA represents the state’s independent grocers and convenience stores. Membership includes all levels of the food and beverage distribution industry who collaborate to promote the principles of free enterprise to ensure a vigorous, competitive, economically healthy food industry. The grocery and convenience store industry provides about 50,000 Washington jobs. For more information, visit www.wa-food-ind.org.
About the Northwest Grocery Association
The NorthwestGrocery Association (NWGA) serves as the leading advocate for the grocery retail and supplier industry in the Pacific Northwest, representing Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Collectively NWGA members employ more than 80,000 at more than 860 locations across Washington. Our membership includes the retailers, wholesalers, brokers, manufacturers, and suppliers that support the PacificNorthwest’s grocery industry.