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Durkan will veto repeal of COVID hazard pay for Seattle grocery workers

Cashiers at a grocery store sanitize a card reader and the checkout area.
Steve Senne
The Associated Press file
Cashiers at a grocery store sanitize a card reader and the checkout area.

Jenny Durkan, the outgoing mayor of Seattle, says she will veto City Council legislation that would have repealed the $4 an hour hazard pay boost for grocery workers that has been in place for nearly a year.

The Seattle City Council voted 8-0 last January to approve the mandatory hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the council voted to repeal that bump.

Durkan, in announcing on Wednesday her veto, cited the rise of the omicron variant and rising infection case numbers.

“Now is not the time to roll back the pay for these critical front-line workers,” Durkan said in a statement.

Other cities, mostly along the West Coast, including Los Angeles, Berkeley and Long Beach, California, had also approved similar hazard pay boosts for grocery workers.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored both the initial hazard pay ordinance and the repeal, said it was always intended to be temporary, “before vaccinations would be widely available."

On Wednesday, Mosqueda said she supports Durkan’s veto, given the rapid spread of the omicron variant and new warnings and guidance from health officials.

Durkan chose not to run for reelection and will be succeeded by former City Councilman Bruce Harrell in January.

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