After pressure from workers, shoppers, and community members through petitions, leaflets, and other actions, this week the UFCW 21 Local union – which represents 25,000 grocery store workers – reached an agreement with PCC Community Markets on providing hazard pay to workers.

PCC has agreed to extend a $4 per hour hazard pay to all PCC workers in all stores until the lifting of the state emergency order or June 5, 2021, whichever happens first, expanding on the Hazard Pay ordinances won by UFCW 21 workers in Seattle and Burien.

Hazard pay will be paid retroactively from Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021.

As we previously reported, PCC recently reached out to the Burien City Council with concerns about a new ordinance, saying that it was ”so worried about the impact of the hazard pay ordinance that you are considering on independent grocers like us, that we feel we have no choice other than to speak up.”

The food cooperative negotiated directly with UFCW 21 and settled on a $4/hour rate, which is $1/hour less than the City of Burien’s new Ordinance 757.

“We prioritize our staff, and this week was no exception. We appreciate the UFCW Local 21’s partnership and are pleased we could come to terms on our offer to provide hazard pay across the co-op,” said PCC CEO and President, Suzy Monford. “The addition of curbside will help the co-op grow and sustain jobs, while also providing a safe, contact-less, modernized option for members and shoppers.”

In addition to the payment of appreciation pay, PCC has reached an understanding with UFCW Local 21 on the future implementation of curbside pick-up, a service members and shoppers have asked for throughout the pandemic. The co-op believes that the addition of this contact-free service will further enhance safety for shoppers and staff while creating added job opportunities within the co-op.

PCC says that it has also worked to coalesce local and national support to expand access to vaccines. Through collaboration with trade associations and with other grocers, the co-op was able to offer priority vaccination appointments starting next week for co-op store staff who meet the state’s current vaccination criteria. The co-op will continue to work with retail partners and government agencies for the prioritization of available vaccines for all grocery workers. For example, the co-op just signed-on to a letter to Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee, in support of prioritization of access to vaccinations in Phase 1b for all food and agricultural essential workers, regardless of their age. To incentivize staff, those who get vaccinated will receive a $25 PCC gift card.

PCC says it spent more than $4M on COVID-related employee and operating costs in 2020. This included staff member appreciation pay, bonuses to all staff in appreciation of their tireless efforts, and in-store safety protocols from installation of plexiglass barriers at check stands to the upgrading of store HVAC systems. PCC is also providing KN95 masks to all staff and the co-op’s “no mask, no entry” policy remains in place to provide a safe environment for staff and the larger PCC community of members and shoppers.

In support of the well-being of staff, PCC offers a generous medical, dental, and mental health benefits that include:

    • Low monthly premiums, low annual deductibles, disability and life insurance;
    • Alternative health coverage, including naturopathic physician coverage, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage;
    • A free employee assistance program to help with a range of challenges from emotional well-being to legal and financial issues.

PCC Community Markets is a food cooperative based in Seattle, with stores in Burien and West Seattle. It has over 58,000 members, and is the largest consumer-owned food cooperative in the United States. It was originally Puget Consumers Co-op, became PCC Natural Markets in 1998 and PCC Community Markets in 2017. The Burien store opened in May, 2018.

Below are other highlights of the agreement:

    • UFCW 21 has a commitment from PCC to bargain over extending this agreement, including hazard pay, at least 30 days before it expires.
    • The agreement provides for Quarantine Pay for workers who get diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as other safety provisions.
    • PCC will begin a curbside pickup program that captures work for union members instead of giving it away to the gig economy.
    • UFCW 21 also reviewed its continued commitment to discuss new technologies in the stores with the Union before implementation.