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caption: Melissa grocery shops at Fred Meyer on Monday, November 16, 2020, on Northwest 45th Street in Seattle. New statewide restrictions were announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
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Melissa grocery shops at Fred Meyer on Monday, November 16, 2020, on Northwest 45th Street in Seattle. New statewide restrictions were announced by Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Pierce County executive vetoes hazard pay for grocery workers

Grocery workers in unincorporated Pierce County may not see $4-an-hour hazard pay bonus despite the County Council's approval.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier vetoed the proposal this week.

He says a lot of people have been on the front lines, not just grocery workers, and "to differentiate, to try to pick and choose within those is an impossible choice."

He says the same is true when differentiating the risk workers face at one grocery store versus another.

"It's hard to justify how a Safeway on South Hill is facing a significantly different risk that they should get a hazard pay bonus, when the Safeway in Puyallup just a couple miles away doesn't," he explained.

And in a letter explaining his veto, Dammeier advocated for improving vaccination efforts to "make [grocery stores] safe, not more expensive."

The County Council can overturn his veto with a two-thirds vote, but the union representing the workers says that’s not likely.

The ordinance was originally approved by a 4-3 vote. Dissenting Councilmembers Amy Cruver, Dave Morell and Hans Zeiger requested the veto.

Similar measures have been passed — and upheld — in the region.

Seattle and Burien passed ordinances at the city level earlier this year. The King County Council followed suit, adopting hazard pay for grocery workers in its own unincorporated areas.

Dammeier also objected to the proposal, in part, because he argues the state is nearing the end of the coronavirus pandemic emergency.