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Time to End Seattle Hazard Pay Along with Mask Mandate

Seattlegrocery stores remain the only employer still required to offer extra pay

Tammie Hetrick, President and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA), today called on Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City of Seattle to end the city’shazard pay ordinance now that the mask mandate has ended. 

               “Communities all over Seattle are now open for business, and yet grocery stores remain the only employers still impacted by a pay ordinance enacted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Hetrick in her message to the mayor and council.

               Grocery and convenience stores have maintained the highest safety protocols and operated safely throughout the pandemic, Hetrick said, but the safety concerns that prompted the ordinance are no longer an issue. As such, there is no logical reason to continue the extension of hazard pay given this latest change in COVID masking protocols.

               Independent grocers will continue to safely serve their customers, in spite of ongoing supply chain shortages and the rising cost of inflation, and continue to struggle financially, Hetrick added. The extra pay mandate, coupled with the rising rate of inflation, growing energy costs, and supply chain challenges, have strained independent grocers who are just trying to keep their doors open. Many of these same businesses are also paying more for security to protectagainst shoplifting, property damage and other safety concerns, she noted. 

“The cumulative impact of all of these added costs have real impacts on our members, many of whom are small, family-owned businesses. Annual inflation in the U.S. is now at its highest rate since 1982. It is difficult for these small businesses to compete on cost in the current environment; they cannot spread those costs out over other stores, and have no choice but to raise prices. That hurts working families and others in the communities served by these grocery stores,” she said.

“I ask you to reconsider this measure immediately and treat grocery stores just as you would all other public offices, industries and businesses. The end of the mask mandate should also signal the end of the hazard pay ordinance in Seattle.”