- Seattle’s PCC Community Markets is providing $4 per hour in temporary hazard pay to all hourly workers across its fleet, regardless of whether they work at a location covered by the city’s newly implemented hazard pay ordinance, the 15-store grocery cooperative announced in a press release Wednesday.
- The co-op also said it has secured priority appointments beginning next week for workers who meet Washington state’s current COVID-19 vaccination criteria.
- PCC is voluntarily providing many of its workers with extra compensation as a growing number of municipalities require grocers to give workers hazard pay.
PCC’s announcement continues a change in course for the grocer, which tried unsuccessfully to convince Seattle to either not implement the hazard pay legislation passed by the city council that went into force on Feb. 3 or exempt smaller, local chains from its requirements. In a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, PCC CEO Suzy Monford said the $4-per-hour mandate would disproportionately harm chains like hers.
The day after the law took effect, PCC said it had proposed paying $4 per hour in hazard pay to all workers on its payroll represented by Local 21 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union in return for certain “non-economic concessions,” which it did not specify.
According to the co-op’s latest announcement, the chain will provide $4 in hourly hazard pay to all of the almost 1,500 unionized workers in its 15 stores, retroactive to Feb. 3. PCC will give provide hazard pay to the approximately 700 workers in its seven stores outside Seattle’s city limits until the state lifts its emergency order regarding the pandemic or June 5, whichever comes first, the chain said.
The decision by PCC to give workers hazard pay even if local authorities do not require it puts it ahead of a growing movement by local municipalities and labor officials to compel grocers to reward their workers financially for their efforts during the pandemic.
In addition to Seattle, a number of other jurisdictions recently passed or are considering hazard pay legislation, including Long Beach, California and Los Angeles. The UFCW, meanwhile, is pressuring state and local officials to force grocers to provide hazard pay.
PCC also said it is working with trade associations and other grocers to make it easier for its workers to access COVID-19 vaccinations. The chain said it has joined a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee urging the state to give priority access to food and agricultural essential workers, who are included in Phase 1b of Washington’s vaccine-allocation plan regardless of their age, according to the press release.
PCC is offering $25 gift cards to workers who elect to get vaccinated, which is below the incentives larger grocers have said they will provide workers who get COVID-19 shots. Lidl, for example, is providing $200 to workers who receive vaccinations, while Kroger is distributing $100 payments. Aldi and Target are both offering up to four hours of pay — two hours per dose.
In addition, PCC said it has reached a deal with UFCW Local 21 that paves the way for the chain to introduce curbside pickup. PCC is not ready to disclose when the service will begin or where it will be offered, a spokesperson said in an email.