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Seattle City Council reinstates hazard pay for grocery workers during pandemic

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda introduced the legislation.

The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 Monday to approve a new law that will reinstate an extra $4 per hour in hazard pay for grocery store workers in the city.

“Grocery store workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, interacting with many customers each day in hazardous conditions to ensure Seattle residents can put food on the table,” said Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who introduced the legislation last week.

“It’s also not lost on me that the dangers of working in grocery stores during the pandemic are felt especially by our BIPOC [Black, indigenous and other people of color] communities, as employees of color are overrepresented in the retail frontline workforce and those communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” she added.

The hazard pay will be in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The Washington state department of health plans to make vaccines available to all grocery workers by April 2021.

Grocery workers face serious risk of COVID-19 infection.  A study of 104 workers at a grocery store in Boston, Massachusetts found that 20% tested positive for COVID-19, despite high mask usage, according to a British Medical Journal report. The workers also reported high emotional and mental health stress.

The risks grocery store workers face are even more serious since the first case of the highly-contagious UK variant of coronavirus was discovered in the Seattle area on January 23.

The hazard pay for grocery workers legislation follows the City Council’s enactment of an extra $5 per hour in pay for gig workers and paid sick time during the pandemic.

Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us at if you have a question about your rights as a grocery worker, or if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, injury, or employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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