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King County Council approves hazard pay for grocery workers

Customer Kyung Kim, right, and her daughter Alexa Oh, 9, are handed their purchased baked goods through an open door by cashier Donna Te as they maintain social distance and wear masks Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson
/
The Associated Press
Customer Kyung Kim, right, and her daughter Alexa Oh, 9, are handed their purchased baked goods through an open door by cashier Donna Te as they maintain social distance and wear masks Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Seattle.

Workers at supermarkets in unincorporated King County will begin receiving hazard pay in a couple of weeks. The King County Council voted Tuesday to require large grocery stores to pay an extra $4 an hour to employees.

The City of Seattle passed a similar ordinance in late January, and Burien is requiring stores to pay an extra $5 an hour. 

Councilmember Rod Dembowski sponsored the county measure. He says it is unusual to tell private companies what they should be paying employees. But, he says “these are unusual and exceptional times.”

The hazard pay will take effect on March 22, the same day grocery workers become eligible to receive the vaccine. It will remain in place until the COVID emergency declared by King County Executive Dow Constantine ends.

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