Pierce County executive vetoes hazard pay for grocery workers in unincorporated Pierce County

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier has vetoed a measure that would mandate hazard pay for grocery workers in unincorporated parts of the county. 

The Pierce County Council passed the legislation Tuesday in a 4-3 vote. The ordinance requires large grocery stores to pay an extra $4 an hour for workers through the duration of Gov. Jay Inslee's declared COVID-19 emergency.

"Fundamentally, the County should focus on reducing COVID-19 risk instead of driving up costs," Dammeier said in a letter to the council. "If grocery stores are unsafe, make them safer, not more expensive."

Dammeier said he agrees with the three council members who warned that the measure could have "inequitable impacts" by mandating hazard pay for some grocery workers but not others. 

The same hazard pay measures have been approved in several Puget Sound cities and counties, including Seattle, King County, Burien and Olympia, among others. 

RELATED: Judge OKs $4-an-hour pay boost for Seattle grocery workers

Convenience stores, food marts, farmers’ markets and farm stands are not included. The ordinance applies only to stores located in unincorporated Pierce County.

Local union leaders are now accusing Dammeier of siding with big corporations by vetoeing the legislation.

"Bought and paid for with corporate dollars," UFCW 367 President Angel Gonzalez said in a news release condemning his decision. 

RELATED: King County Council approves ordinance to increase grocery workers pay $4 per hour during pandemic

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