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QFC says will lay off 109 workers in Seattle hazard pay closures including 15th Ave E store

QFC’s decision to close two Capitol Hill stores including its 15th Ave E grocery over Seattle’s COVID-19 hazard pay ordinance will cost 109 workers their jobs, the company revealed in a state filing Friday afternoon.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification announcements are federally required for employers with 100 or more employees “to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment.”

A QFC spokesperson did not respond to CHS’s inquiry about how many workers of the 109 are currently employed at the 15th Ave E store.

Parent company Kroger also blamed COVID-19 hazard pay requirements for its decision to close a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less in Long Beach, California.

CHS reported last week on the company’s decision to shutter two Seattle stores over the $4/hour hazard pay requirements for large grocers. Both the 15th Ave E and Wedgwood store are set to close April 24th.

CHS reported on the potential impact to the 15th Ave E neighborhood here including the developer who purchased the 15th Ave E block home to the QFC and its plans to keep the building activated during the two years remaining on QFC’s lease.

Capitol Hill is also home to two QFCs on Broadway while the Safeway a few blocks away at 15th and John could be up for redevelopment in coming years.

While the company has not released specifics on employees or the profit and loss at the 15th Ave E store, it described both stores that will close in April as “underperforming” and a company spokesperson told the Puget Sound Business Journal that QFC spent around $600,000 across the two stores “on remodels in the last few years” and described the stores as “the most expensive to operate.”

For the more than 100 employees at the stores, QFC said representatives “will be meeting with each impacted associate to help them with this transition and will comply with any contractual commitments and consider any transfer requests.”

The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is still being measured and understood. Statewide, unemployment numbers have dropped with the slow reopening of the economy but claims still remain about twice levels seen before the start of the pandemic last spring. Earlier this month, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new bill to boost the minimum unemployment benefit and halt an increase in unemployment tax on businesses.


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CHqueer
CHqueer
12 days ago

Why is this store “the most expensive to operate”? Perhaps it has something to do with the huge amount of theft and need to hire private security. A couple of months ago, all their grocery carts had been stolen. Walgreens down the block can barely keep product on their shelves. Even toothpaste is now under lock and key at the store at Pine and Broadway. City Attorney Pete Holmes and the City Council have essentially legalized shop lifting in Seattle. Something needs to change drastically with how this city is managed by our elected officials. This next election is a make or break moment for Seattle.

Dan
Dan
12 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Do you spend all day on this blog commenting the same thing on basically every post? You seem incredibly unhappy in this neighborhood, you are free to live elsewhere.

Russ
Russ
12 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Hopefully this blog isn’t degrading to “If you don’t like our freedoms move to China/Russia/Canada/whereever” phrases like you see from the right. What’s wrong with people being passionate about their neighborhood / city?

Dan
Dan
12 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Generally speaking you’re right, people should absolutely be critical of politicians, laws etc and be engaged in their community. In this instance I’m literally talking just to CHqueer who posts the same “capitol hill is a shithole now, blame loony city council!” comment on any slightly-relevant post day after day.

slider292
slider292
11 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Did you ever consider the possibility that they might be onto something, Dan? It’s certainly not just CHqueer who harbors this sentiment….

Jeanette Cummings
Jeanette Cummings
12 days ago
Reply to  Dan

She’s right..There so pist about paying There employees to make them more money,, but yet shop lifters take about over half of products on shelf

RWK
RWK
11 days ago
Reply to  Dan

CHqueer may exaggerate at times to make a point, but I welcome his/her comments because they are usually spot-on. There IS alot to complain about in Seattle these days, especially the unwise decisions by our lefty City Council, and the permissiveness of City Attorney Pete Holmes.

Tom
Tom
11 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Dan, him and the other righ…I mean “moderates” around here are one of the reasons I will keep supporting Sawant and our “lefty City Council.”

Charles Nighbor
Charles Nighbor
12 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Per current laws anyone appearing to be stealing any goods cannot be confronted till they are outside the store

Jeanette Cummings
Jeanette Cummings
12 days ago

Even at that, no one can even take away stolen goods..I see everyday when I work at qfc…its ridiculous..Its almost like saying ” come on in , get what you want .. FREE!!!”

Liam
Liam
11 days ago

There is a bill to address by including concealment to the list of reasons stores can ask if they’re going to pay for it? Apparently it’s controversial since I guess concealment can be confused with race it sounds:

https://komonews.com/news/local/businesses-hoping-state-lawmakers-crack-down-on-rise-in-shoplifters

Patty
Patty
12 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

I totally agree CHqueer! It’s a massive problem. City Council and Pete Holmes have got to go. Well said!

James T.
James T.
12 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

CHCapitalist with another riveting comment!

Jeanette Cummings
Jeanette Cummings
12 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Your darn right

sara
sara
11 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

The next election is a make or break moment for your exaggeration, sensationalism and non stop trolling

Adam
Adam
11 days ago
Reply to  sara

They’re wrong about this election being a make-or-break moment…on in that the last city council election was actually the make-or-break moment. And it broke.

Thomasguy01
Thomasguy01
11 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

I wonder if CHqueer is Egan Orion…?

CD Balooka
CD Balooka
11 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

Invest in education, housing and mental health and we should see these decline. If we don’t it’s only going to get worse. We need to invest in our community, and that also means investing in people.

Russ
Russ
12 days ago

I’m not sure why anyone is surprised – QFC/Kroger fill the market for people who want reasonably priced groceries and aren’t willing to pay a high mark up for all the organic/non-gmo/non-whatever labels which are much higher profit for places like Whole Foods / PCC. The only way that business model works is a high scale / low cost business for the extremely low margins on non-high end grocery (estimated around 2% profit margin).

Here’s some simple math estimated on the low side – if a grocery store has two shifts of 20 people for 8 hours a day thats 320 hours of work per day, 116,800 work hours per year. A $4 increase in labor cost = $467,200 per year increase in labor – seems like not much right?

If you’re a low margin (2% business) how much more product do you have to sell per year to cover that? 23 million dollars more in sales – that number is huge if the store is already underperforming its targets.

Politics aside, there is real impact here to the business, and yeah Kroger is a mega corp so its not going to hurt them to close the store and their bean counters are constantly looking for ways to keep the business profitable – its only going to hurt the workers and the community.

Lark
Lark
12 days ago
Reply to  Russ

Right, they may not be able to pass the costs on to consumers, or it may be just too much work to rework their pricing models for the return. Granted they’re not hand managing prices, they have economists and complex algorithms, but I can see executives having bigger issues in a company that size.

That said it seems like the city means well, to a degree. But when it comes down to it, you’re always going to have some economic bell curve. And while being at the poorer end of it is harder anywhere, in the US if you’re poor you have to live in dangerous neighborhoods quite often, where people shoot each other etc. In Europe this isn’t the case, you just have less because you’re poor, but you’re not fearing for your life, you kids don’t go to schools where they need police officers. So that would be another end of the spectrum they could also focus on, why are American neighbors that have the same amount of money as Erupean ones so dangerous in comparison?

LivedInEurope
LivedInEurope
11 days ago
Reply to  Lark

Have you been to some of the poorer neighborhoods in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, or any other European city?

They are arguably worse than ours in many ways.

Look up Banlieues if you want to learn about the French variety.

Lark
Lark
11 days ago
Reply to  LivedInEurope

I have lived in Central Europe in working class neighborhoods while not having much money, I’ve spent time in Eastern Europe which is very poor too, and no one was shooting at each other and they were just poor not dangerous. No reports of street violence in the news at lest. Maybe my expirence is anecdotal for that reason.

jpm2020
jpm2020
6 days ago
Reply to  LivedInEurope

I live in Eastern Europe (Budapest) and it’s exponentially safer here in the worst neighborhoods than the worst in Seattle. I have no worry about my wife walking around at night whereas I would never let that happen in Seattle.

In years of living here I’ve never had anything stolen from me whereas having my car windows smashed was a twice yearly occurrence in Seattle. My storage unit in Capitol Hill was broken into and have $3k worth of camping gear stolen.

What is currently going on in Seattle is worse than anything in Europe. It’s a shame because Seattle is so unbelievable gorgeous and was once a world class city.

I’d be back if it ever got cleaned up but it seems less likely by the day that’ll happen.

Nicholas
Nicholas
12 days ago
Reply to  Russ

I don’t disagree with you, but they could have at least tried. It seems to me like they just are shutting down just to spit in the face of the city council. They could have cut management salaries, negotiated on their rent, evaluated product options that could increase profit. Instead they just threw in the towel immediate. I hope a grocery store that focuses on the community replaces it.

Qfc falls into high end imo, I stopped shopping there because prices on everything were higher than other grocery stores and they had few if any non-organic options. I refuse to buy organic if there’s another option, it’s just a price gouging scam.

Russ
Russ
12 days ago
Reply to  Nicholas

I think it likely was already one of their problem stores that was underperforming and this was a good excuse to close. No company wants to show that kind of defeat but if someone gives them an out at the same time that costs go even higher I’m not surprised they took it.

Come on right now
Come on right now
12 days ago
Reply to  Nicholas

That’s not how this works. A corporation the size of Kroger is making decisions at aggregate level based on business rules and a proven methodology (their overall profitability and market capitalization validates that). There is not some person(s) sitting around, angry with Seattle City Council, who has/have the authority to just “spit in their face” and shut down a store.

It is economics to them, plain and simple. They will try to do right by their employees to a degree… but once the forecasting models flip into the “not feasible to operate here anymore” then it’s almost automatic.

Just bidness, sonny…

keerawa
keerawa
11 days ago

Yes, and for a corporation the size of Kroger to make the decision to close some underperforming stores at a time that allows them to make a grand announcement that might discourage other communities from decreasing their profit margin by increasing the amount they’re required to pay their workers makes all kinds of sense.

Jeanette Cummings
Jeanette Cummings
12 days ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Management gets a huge bonus check end of year…They cut our hours by 60% some people there are barely getting 20 hours a week..Christmas bonus for workers is 5$ managers like 10 k plus….all those hours taken from workers Its going into managers pockets..While they sit in there offices talking about employees and play on there phones!! B.S

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
11 days ago
Reply to  Nicholas

More than half their produce is non-organic. If you buy things on sale, the prices aren’t too bad.

Bruce
Bruce
11 days ago
Reply to  Russ

I recall, however, that kroger made a profit of over 1.8 BILLION dollars this year over last year…so tell me again who i should weep for and who shall I say is extorting it’s employees and community.

Russ
Russ
11 days ago
Reply to  Bruce

The fact that Kroger doesn’t care about the community was one of the points of my post. Its a mega corp, it doesn’t have feelings or do things out of spite. If we make significant changes to the equation of a business through legislation there is going to be fall out, not sure what everyone is so upset about.

David
David
12 days ago

The article doesn’t actually say anything about workers being laid off: am I missing something, or is the headline misleading?

I had heard directly from QFC employees that workers at the affected stores will be transferred to other locations if they want.

Carmen
Carmen
12 days ago
Reply to  David

First paragraph:
> COVID-19 hazard pay ordinance will cost 109 workers their jobs

David
David
11 days ago
Reply to  Carmen

They don’t cite anything supporting this, though, only that 109 workers are affected by the closure. I heard first hand that this is not the case, and I expect a journalist to have done their due diligence in checking their reporting. What percentage of that 109 will not be allowed to transfer?

Jeanette Cummings
Jeanette Cummings
12 days ago
Reply to  David

They can only be transferred if the other stores are hiring for positions

David
David
11 days ago

That’s not true. I heard from employees at another store that no one was getting laid off from QFC and that everyone would be allowed to move to new stores if they want to.

If anyone has a source with contrary information, that would be good to hear.

Winston
Winston
11 days ago
Reply to  David

They notified WA they were going to layoff workers, which I think they’re required to. But that’s good if they’re just transferring them and cutting the cost of the location only.

Karen N
Karen N
12 days ago

These two stores were flagged to close anyway, before the $4.00 hazard pay. They are doing it sooner to make a point. Wherever there is a Safeway, QFC has problems. Its location.

Nope
Nope
11 days ago
Reply to  Karen N

The Safeway is closing as well. Perhaps a different problem ?

the smaller QFCs do charge more for a lot of items, which tends to drive the savvy customer elsewhere.

Jim
Jim
11 days ago

As wages rise it is good and should be expected that some businesses close. Some business models are not compatible with living wages, and should close so better businesses can take their place. The only hope is their shareholders hurt on the way out to encourage other businesses to modernize preemptively.

Juan gacia
Juan gacia
11 days ago

More on unemployment, just what Washington government likes.

Bruce
Bruce
11 days ago

I’ve been an avid shopper at Freddie’s for years. Since Kroger’s aquisition, the experience has gone downhill. Since I have the means, I’m discontinuing my patronage in favor of stores that treat their employees and community better ( is, ballard market)