Supermarket retailer Kroger announced it will close two of its QFC grocery stores in Seattle because of the City Council’s new “Hazard Pay” law requiring an extra $4 per hour for workers.
The mandate, dubbed “Hazard Pay,” was designed to compensate grocery store workers for working in “dangerous” conditions due to the Covid pandemic – but it backfired.
QFC said its Seattle employees already make an average of $20 per hour – not including healthcare and retirement benefits.
The two grocery stores located on 15th Avenue and 35th Avenue in the Wedgewood neighborhood will close in 60 days.
“When you factor in the increased costs of operating during COVID-19, coupled with consistent financial losses at these two locations, and this new extra pay mandate, it becomes impossible to operate a financially sustainable business,” QFC said in a statement.
Earlier this month Kroger was forced to close two of its stores in Long Beach, California after the city council passed a mandate requiring companies with more than 300 employees to pay workers an extra $4 per hour.
Ralphs and Food 4 Less, owned by the parent company Kroger will be closing on April 17 due to the oppressive ordinance.
“As a result of the City of Long Beach’s decision to pass an ordinance mandating Extra Pay for grocery workers, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close long-struggling store locations in Long Beach,” said a company spokesperson. “This misguided action by the Long Beach City Council oversteps the traditional bargaining process and applies to some, but not all, grocery workers in the city.”
Kroger said it invested more than $1.3 billion since March to implement Covid safety measures and compensate employees.
This is just a taste of what’s to come with Joe Biden’s federal minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.