One-time payments of $1,250 proposed for some county workers

Another proposal by County Executive Somers would boost hourly pay by $4 for grocery store workers.

EVERETT — Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers wants to use federal relief dollars for one-time payments of $1,250 to about 1,000 to 2,000 public-facing county employees deemed essential during the pandemic.

And another proposal would mandate $4-per-hour pay boosts to most grocery store workers in unincorporated Snohomish County.

On Tuesday, Somers submitted both ordinances to the county council for approval.

“Our frontline workforce has been putting themselves at significant personal risk for the last 17 months providing ready access to food, shelter, safety and other essential government services,” Somers said in a news release. “While these proposals are short term measures, these essential workers have earned this supplemental pay. As the labor market tightens, it is vital that we retain a healthy and motivated workforce to serve our communities.”

The one-time payments would go to people like sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, human services specialists, park rangers, and other county employees who’ve frequently interacted with the public during the pandemic.

“Our county workers and grocery employees have kept our essential services running during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to rely on them for the next phase of pandemic response and recovery,” Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright said in the news release. “During this unprecedented and dangerous event, these workers continue to provide ready access to food and vital services and have more than earned our respect and additional support.”

The money would come from the county’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law in March. The U.S. Department of Treasury has encouraged governments to spend the federal dollars on premium pay for frontline workers, among other programs.

Under the other proposal, the $4 pay raise would apply to the eight large grocery stores in unincorporated Snohomish County. The program would last until Gov. Jay Inslee lifts his state of emergency order or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.

“It’s time to show our appreciation to frontline workers by providing adequate compensation with hazard pay for the hardships they continue to endure during one of the most challenging times of the last century,” County Council Vice Chair Megan Dunn said. “We are asking large grocery stores to provide hazard pay and be responsible employers, and in turn we are offering hazard pay to our frontline workers. All work has value — from bagging our groceries and stocking shelves to driving snowplows and protecting the public — and we value the sacrifices of our frontline families.”

In April, Edmonds became the first city in the county to require hazard pay, when the city council approved a $4-per-hour pay bump for grocery store workers.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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