Request made to increase pay for PT essential workers

Posted 2/25/21

Some people are overdue for a pay raise.

That was the message to the Port Townsend City Council.

In a letter read to city council during their Feb. 16 meeting, Bridgette Ramsey pushed the …

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Request made to increase pay for PT essential workers

Posted

Some people are overdue for a pay raise.

That was the message to the Port Townsend City Council.

In a letter read to city council during their Feb. 16 meeting, Bridgette Ramsey pushed the council to follow in the footsteps of the Seattle City Council by requiring grocery stores to provide their workers with an additional $4 per hour during the pandemic.

“I ask that Port Townsend City Council work expeditiously in passing similar legislation, to help address the needs of our community’s most vulnerable and hardworking families,” Ramsey wrote. “Seattle’s bill only applies to grocery workers for companies with more than 500 employees in locations with greater than 10,000 square feet.”

Ramsey said Port Townsend’s council should  consider one-upping the Seattle City Council by instituting a pay increase for all essential workers for companies with 500 workers or more.

“Safeway gas station employees should be covered, as should our McDonald’s and Subway workers,” Ramsey wrote. “Such national and international corporations are profiting greatly from our community members risking their lives to perform their work. They have the financial ability to honor these workers for it, by investing in their well-being and providing for their needs.”

But can the city council push these businesses to pay their essential workers more?

Not likely, said Mayor Michelle Sandoval.

“I think people think we have a whole lot more power than we do,” Sandoval said, adding that she didn’t see the matter as something the council would pursue.

“It’s not something that I think we would take up,” she said. “When we took up the plastic bag ordinance, that took a couple of years, because we wanted to involve all of the stakeholders — and that included all of the grocery stores in our community.”

Similarly, Sandoval said the council would need to do a fair amount of research on the impacts before pushing any sort of local action for essential worker pay. Instead, the mayor pointed to discourse on the national level related to essential worker compensation, adding “that’s something that could move forward much quicker, so we’ll see what happens in this next month.”

As part of President Joe Biden’s proposed
$1.9 trillion economic stimulus package is an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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