By BRETT DAVIS
THE CENTER SQUARE PERSONNEL JOURNALIST
(The Center Square) – In one of her last official acts as mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan will veto city council legislation to end the additional $ 4 an hour risk bonus for grocery store workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seattle City Council voted 8-0 last week to end the requirement in recognition of “considerable progress made in supporting the health and safety of frontline workers and the community through higher rates high vaccination rates and a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations ”, the summary statement of the invoice.
“Now is not the time to cut the wages of these essential frontline workers,” Mayor Durkan said in a prepared statement on Wednesday defending his veto plans, citing the omicron variant and rising infection rates . “In an age when there are no right choices, there are decisions we can make to protect the health, safety and well-being of our residents, and the risk premium is one of the key city policies that supported workers who supported us all. . “
Given the eight votes for repeal, city council theoretically has enough votes to override Mayor Durkan’s veto, although there has been public hesitation. Council members did not respond to emails from The Center Square asking if they would vote to override the mayor’s veto.
After surviving a recall effort last week by a margin of 310 votes, Socialist Council member and frequent political enemy Kshama Sawant hailed Mayor Durkan’s veto.
Ms Sawant said the vote was a “surrender” by “self-proclaimed Progressive Democrats in the interests of big business,” the Seattle Times reported.
Ms Sawant, who co-sponsored the law providing a risk premium for grocery store workers, was absent from last week’s vote to repeal the risk premium ordinance.
After the vote to repeal the legislation, Council member Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored both the original risk premium and repeal ordinance, said she had changed her mind again.
“Over the past week, the emergence, prevalence and severity of COVID have increased due to the Omicron variant,” Mosqueda said in a statement Wednesday. “We also received new guidance and advice in public health, evolving until last Friday. We are now seeing the effects that the Omicron variant will have on the health of our population and the high risks that grocery store workers will face in the months to come. It is with these new developments that the risk premium will remain in place.
Councilor Lisa Herbold voted for the repeal, but now supports Mayor Durkan’s veto.
“Public health is the number one priority,” Ms. Herbold said in a prepared statement. “And as we continue to receive up-to-date advice from public health officials, we must respond quickly to protect the health and safety of our constituents. “
Seattle city council voted 8-0 last January to approve the mandatory risk premium for the duration of the pandemic.
Mayor Durkan initially sought re-election for a second term, but stepped down last December due to the economic impact of COVID and civil unrest in Seattle.
Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell will take office on January 1, 2022.
Brett Davis covers Washington State for The Center Square.