Next week, I'll be introducing and hearing in committee a bill to provide a modest "hazard pay" to grocery workers. Much like many of you, I've spent more time at home cooking during COVID-19 (and frequenting take out from local restaurants -- that's important too!). Every week when I go to the grocery store, I see busy stores and employees who are working sometimes mere feet away from customers with masks under their nose or under their chin. It's why a recent study found that 20% of grocery workers at a grocery store in Boston tested positive for COVID-19. Grocery store workers still show up at work—many for near minimum wages — to serve our community, to make sure they can put food on their families' tables AND so that we can put food on ours.
The risk of getting sick with COVID-19 continues to escalate despite a full year of living with the pandemic and taking steps to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. The state's vaccination timeline continues to push out the scheduled phase for grocery worker vaccinations; while some grocery workers will be vaccinated in February, most won't get the opportunity until April or May, or even later.
I'm honored to stand with grocery workers, who will join gig workers in our city in their fight for pay that acknowledges their sacrifices for Seattle residents and that acknowledges that grocery stores are bringing in record profits during this pandemic.
If passed, Seattle will become one of four municipalities in the country leading on a $4-5/hour hazard pay for grocery workers, with San Francisco, Long Beach, California, and Los Angeles County. Seattle will also continue its long tradition of being at the forefront of workers' rights and equity for all who live and work in this city.
This legislation will be heard in my committee on Friday, January 22nd at 2:00pm and only applies to workers in larger grocery stores. I look forward to hearing from you that day and in the coming weeks.