Citing the rising omicron variant infection rates, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced her decision to veto the repeal of the hazard pay ordinance. The City Council passed the repeal legislation by an 8-0 vote on December 13.
The Seattle City Council approved the hazard pay mandate on January 25, 2021, and survived a lawsuit by the grocery industry. The Council’s rationale for approving the $4 per hour mandate was that grocery workers were frontline workers during the pandemic, putting their health at risk before Covid vaccines were readily available. At that time, the Council committed to re-examining the need for the hazard pay mandate after four months.
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored both the legislation creating the hazard pay mandate and repealing it, expressed her support for the Mayor’s decision to veto the repeal. “We are now seeing the effects the omicron variant will have on our population’s health, and the elevated risk grocery store workers will face in the months ahead,” she said.