TACOMA (April 27, 2021) — The Pierce County Council is considering an ordinance that would grant an additional $4 per hour in hazard pay to grocery store employees of companies with 500 or more employees worldwide who work in incorporated and unincorporated Pierce County for the duration of the governor’s declared COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
“These workers have been on the frontlines for the last year and it has not been easy,” said Councilmember Jani Hitchen (District 6) who is co-sponsoring the proposed Ordinance No. 2021-30 along with Councilmember Ryan Mello (District 4). “While the proposed additional pay won’t make their jobs easier, it provides much-needed compensation for the hazards of working while facing significant exposure to COVID-19.”
If approved, Pierce County would join multiple neighboring jurisdictions, including King County, Olympia, Seattle, Burien and Edmonds, which have enacted hazard pay ordinances for grocery workers.
“While the grocery stores’ profits have increased tremendously this last year, our grocery workers have incurred personal unexpected costs including purchasing their own personal protective equipment, COVID tests, additional childcare costs due to school closings, and losing pay due to illness or exposure,” said Angel Gonzalez, President of UFCW 367, which represents grocery and retail workers in Pierce, Mason, Thurston, Pacific, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties. “Grocery workers are vital to our communities and they deserve a safe workplace and fair pay for the risks and stress they experience daily.”
The proposed ordinance will be reviewed by the council’s Human Services Committee in a special meeting this Friday, April 30 at 9:30 a.m. (Join via Zoom here.) A council vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 3 p.m.
“This is moving quickly because our grocery worker heroes need our support now as we experience a 4th COVID wave,” writes Mello regarding the Facebook video below. “Help us by sharing this post TODAY and tell your friends why you stand with grocery workers!”