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QFC to shutter 15th Ave E grocery as company axes two Seattle stores over COVID-19 hazard pay — UPDATE

Blaming the city’s newly imposed $4 an hour COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery workers, QFC announced Tuesday it is closing two “underperforming” Seattle stores including its Capitol Hill grocery on 15th Ave E.

“Our business provides affordable groceries, good jobs with growth opportunities to thousands of Seattle residents, and proudly supports thousands of local community organizations,” the statement from the Kroger-owned grocery company announcing the closures reads. “We need a level playing field to deliver on these commitments. Unfortunately, Seattle City Council didn’t consider that grocery stores — even in a pandemic — operate on razor-thin profit margins in a very competitive landscape. When you factor in the increased costs of operating during COVID-19, coupled with consistent financial losses at these two locations, and this new extra pay mandate, it becomes impossible to operate a financially sustainable business.”

Kroger’s most recent reports show the company smashing forecasts with a surge in revenue and profits during the pandemic.

The 15th Ave E store will remain open through April 24th, the company said. The 35th Ave NE store in Wedgwood is also on the chopping block.


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“Store 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 company says.

QFC operated 13 other stores in the city.

Last month, the Seattle City Council approved emergency hazard pay legislation for the city’s grocery workers facing the ongoing risks of COVID-19 outbreak. Teresa Mosqueda’s bill had wide support on the council and was co-sponsored by councilmembers M. Lorena González, Lisa Herbold, Tammy J. Morales, Kshama Sawant, Dan Strauss, and Andrew J. Lewis. We’ve asked Mosqueda about the Kroger decision.

UPDATE: “While many of us have been working at home for the last year, essential workers, like grocery store workers, are putting their lives, and the health and safety of their families, in hazard’s way everyday they go to work,” Mosqueda said in a statement on the company’s move. “As a City, protecting the health of our community is an essential function. That’s why recently, 73% of Seattle voters supported hazard pay for grocery workers, with close to half of Seattle voters strongly supporting hazard pay. That’s why the grocery workers hazard pay bill passed unanimously at Seattle City Council and was strongly supported by the Mayor. That’s why as a City are working to ensure those who need vaccines most, like front-line grocery workers, get their vaccines. And that’s why, as opposed to PCC and Trader Joe’s, who responded to worker demand and the new law by expanding Seattle’s hazard pay law to stores across the country, it’s beyond disappointing — it’s harmful to our public health and retaliatory — that Kroger decided to announce the closure of their stores (including one store that was already slated for redevelopment).”

Mosqueda, a former Washington State Labor Council lobbyist with wide union support, announced in January she will seek reelection to her citywide seat on the city council.

The 15th Ave E QFC closure could leave a major gap in the commercial strip on the eastern top of Capitol HIll. But the block has been earmarked for eventual redevelopment after Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital purchased the property for $11.25 million four years ago.

“While redevelopment of this building is possible, current leases in place make it unlikely to happen in the near future,” Hunters Capital’s Jill Cronauer said at the time. “However, we do hope to create a more engaging street front for our tenants and neighbors.“

A representative for Hunters says the company also just learned of QFC’s decision and adds that, currently, “there are no redevelopment plans.”

The QFC closure could also impact the future of 15th Ave’s other major chain grocery store. CHS reported here on plans for eventual redevelopment of the Safeway and its large surface parking lot at 15th and John.

The Capitol Hill grocery economy has been a relative boom with some of the biggest recent commercial real estate investments being made by the industry. At Capitol Hill Station, a 16,000-square-foot H Mart is being prepared to open at the center of the development’s retail and restaurant offerings.

Meanwhile, Amazon has made strong investments in the area including the Amazon Go grocery which opened on E Pike a year ago and the Central District Amazon Fresh planned to debut this year in the Vulcan development at 23rd and Jackson.

The 15th Ave E closure will leave Capitol Hill with two remaining QFCs on Broadway — one at the Harvard Market shopping center at Broadway and Pike and the other to the north in the Broadway Market. At around 17,000 square feet, the 15th Ave E QFC is the smallest of the trio and one of the smallest stores in the chain. But its 10,000 square foot surface parking lot is a Capitol Hill rarity.

“We have really enjoyed serving our Capitol Hill community and are saddened to make this decision,” a company representative tells CHS.

UPDATE 1:57 PM: UFCW 21, the largest private sector union in the state representing thousands of workers including grocery store and retail employees, called Kroger’s move “a transparent attempt to intimidate other local governments from passing ordinances that would provide hazard pay to front line grocery store workers”

Today, Kroger publicly announced the closure of two QFC stores in Seattle, in a transparent attempt to intimidate other local governments from passing ordinances that would provide hazard pay to front line grocery store workers. Essential workers, our local government, and our communities will not be threatened by this corporate bullying.

The COVID pandemic has caused serious illness and taken lives, and at the same time the amount of work and the level of stress and risk for grocery store workers has risen dramatically. Early on, companies like QFC agreed to pay $2/hour in hazard pay to employees all across the nation in acknowledgement of the risks workers faced and the essential nature of their work during a national crisis. Then they cut that pay in May – with no explanation. Kroger’s profits continued to soar, as did COVID cases, and as more and more people got sick, and more and more people shopped for groceries, restaurants and schools closed.

Workers have tried for months to get the hazard pay that was cut re-instated. But month after month the pay cuts were kept in place. The level of stress grew, as did concerns about safety, higher workloads, fewer workers on shift, more customers, and rising COVID cases in stores. Several places in California passed local hazard pay ordinances. Kroger announced the closure of two stores in that area in retaliation against that local hazard pay law.

In January, things had reached a breaking point and, working with Seattle City Council, UFCW 21 members were able to help pass a local and temporary $4/hour hazard pay law. That pay went into effect on February 3. Kroger announced their Seattle store closures on February 16.

Today’s announcement by Kroger to close these two Seattle QFCs is a case of over-the-top greed and bullying, and it shows how out of touch Kroger is with our community. The public overwhelmingly supports hazard pay and supports our grocery store workers. Other grocery chains, including PCC locally, have actually expanded hazard pay to stores beyond Seattle and Burien which have now passed new hazard pay laws. Kroger’s closures threaten workers, as well as shoppers and our local community. We need safety concerns addressed and we need hazard pay expanded.

Kroger’s intent seems perfectly clear: They are announcing these closings to try and intimidate any other local communities here in our state or around the nation from passing hazard pay. If Kroger cares about their employees and the local communities in which they operate, they should expand hazard pay and improve store safety practices, not file lawsuits and close our neighborhood stores.


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StealingFromThe Poor
StealingFromThe Poor
18 days ago
D.B.
D.B.
18 days ago

The internet says that Kroger has 435,000 employees. If the CEO didn’t take any pay and instead spread the $21 million out among the employees, each employee would get $48 for the year. I’m not sure that’s the reason these stores are closing. (If you want to go by number of stores instead, Kroger has 3,242 stores. If you spread his salary among the stores, that would be $6,500 per store for the year. I don’t think that’s going to keep the unprofitable stores open either.)

Zach
Zach
18 days ago
Reply to  D.B.

D.B.: Your argument cherry picked just the CEO’s compensation, not that of the other 5 executives cited at the link, which themselves are over $30 million. Then you draw a false conclusion that just dividing executive compensation by total number of employees would represent a direct attribution of pay to everyone, when there are people (such as those in corporate headquarters or in Kroger’s many other stores they own under various brand names in multiple states), who would not get the temporary hazard pay at all for obvious reasons. That doesn’t even include the ethics of not paying hazard pay, even if it meant temporarily being slightly less profitable. All this in a neighborhood in which they feel fine having two other stores open, both of which have larger footprints and so inherently would be more hazardous (requiring more cleaning, having more customer and supplier traffic among other things). They closed because they don’t prioritize the health and well-being (including financial) of their non-corporate employees. Shop at their competitors.

Squire Parkour
Squire Parkour
18 days ago
Reply to  D.B.

Kroger reported an adjusted operating profit of more than $800,000,000 in the 3rd quarter of last year, up 33% from the same period in 2019.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kroger-reports-third-quarter-2020-results-and-raises-full-year-2020-guidance-301185645.html

In addition, last September they announced a $1,000,000,000 stock buy back program, and at the time estimated 13% growth for calendar year 2020 over 2019.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/kroger-stock-rises-after-earnings-beat-1-billion-share-buyback-program-announced-2020-09-11#:~:text=On%20September%2011%2C%202020%2C%20the,to%20be%20%243.20%20to%20%243.30.

So, by every metric they’re not just getting by, but rolling in dough: sales are up, profits are up, and they literally have billions of dollars to burn on CEO bonuses and artificially boosting their stock valuation; but the paltry raise they have to give front line workers in Seattle is totally to blame for closing these locations.

As the saying goes, something smells fishy – and it ain’t fish…

Adam
Adam
18 days ago
Reply to  Squire Parkour

Impressive results. They probably didn’t come from operating stores at a loss.

Notamathematician
Notamathematician
18 days ago
Reply to  D.B.

But I think yer maths is off a bit, DB.

john
john
18 days ago

Kroger CEO makes $21 million a year amid huge pandemic profits. https://popular.info/p/an-outbreak-of-greed

ITW
ITW
18 days ago

ok now that’s weird because kroger’s gross profit was up over 10% last year i think they are trying to pull some funny business on us!

James T.
James T.
18 days ago

Good. Screw QFC trying to underpay workers.

Jim Willard
Jim Willard
18 days ago

Obviously this is just some punitive anti-union craziness from corporate America.

The fact that they’re doing this means unionization and an end to wage stagnation is viewed as a legitimate threat, and thus we should all keep up the pressure.

THAT SAID

This building and it’s ridiculous, ugly, over-sized, and entirely indefensible parking lot really, really need to go. Hunter Capital should speed up its redevelopment plans so we can get this eyesore of a building + its eyesore of a parking lot out of here.

Let’s hope the Boomer crowing about lack of parking — because, as we all know, every Boomer sees it as their natural right to park their vehicle no farther that 25 feet from any entrance, anywhere, at any time — is absolutely ignored during design review.

Also, what’s going on with the “gas station?” That only-a-block-away eyesore can’t go fast enough, either.

Daveon
Daveon
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim Willard

Because another 4 story plus retail monstrosity like the one where Chutney’s used to be is both attractive and exactly what the street is crying out for? Not to mention the building above is affordable housing – also the ‘everything’ store and they other retailers. Personally speaking I’m going to miss a convenient garage that actually knows how to fix cars too. But sure, let’s have another box.

Jim Willard
Jim Willard
18 days ago
Reply to  Daveon

A garage isn’t an appropriate use of a large corner lot in a core neighborhood. And I don’t want to hear what you believe is a smart retort to that statement: your view that the site is okay as is, and that density is undesirable for whatever incoherent reasons you seem to have is a position that is unequivocally wrong, period.

We need density on 15th, and the backward looking, incoherent views of people like you, Daveon, are not helpful and, frankly, should be ignored.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Willard

The 15th Ave E business district has been vibrant for decades with the existing density. It clearly does not “need” more to thrive.

Good Gravy
Good Gravy
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Willard

What an absurd response. Basically, “here are my facts (really just subjective judgements and opinions), but I dont want to hear your response and have a conversation because you’re wrong period because you don’t agree with my opinions that I call facts.

Sheesh, we all can only hope that people of your demeanor are the ones densely packing our city!

I won’t even get started on your “anti-union” angle and failure to consider seeing this another way. You clearly don’t understand that businesses aren’t a charity and don’t make money by running unprofitable stores.

Mimi
Mimi
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Willard

Side note . . . Through tracking it’s been well-documented that 20 -40 year olds are responsible for a large percentage of the spread of covid in this country. Due to the fact that the young folks place in history is one of literally killing thousands of their fellow citizens, I think it’s time to stop attacking Boomers and retire the phrase. They made mistakes but they didn’t kill people. (And for the record, I’m not one.)

FunFella13
FunFella13
17 days ago
Reply to  Mimi

Okay boomer

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
15 days ago
Reply to  Mimi

They made mistakes but they didn’t kill people.

Except continually voting in a party whose policies have caused the deaths of millions. And that’s ignoring the COVID pandemic.

CH Resident
CH Resident
17 days ago
Reply to  Jim Willard

I’m also sick of the union busting and corporate malfeasance. And also sick of the NIMBYs and people who are obsessed with parking over sustainable living. But maybe you could tone the ageism down a notch? Plenty of boomers are interested in urban development and unions and fair pay.

Nope
Nope
18 days ago

Will miss easy parking and smaller scale. The other two are just too big.

Hillery
Hillery
18 days ago

Disgusting. It’s too bad it’s the only store by me or I’d shop elsewhere. But now that limits groceries for that area especially for Seniors. Granted Safeway is there and grocery delivery but not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford the delivering or can walk farther. I don’t think Safeway should redev it’s store now or a huge grocery desert would occur effecting seniors the most. The city needs to do something about that. Unless Safeway can temp move to where QFC was after closure.

James T.
James T.
18 days ago
Reply to  Hillery

Safeway is a block away and there’s another QFC not far down either. Also Central Co Op and Trader Joe’s are very close. And another Safeway. We can’t have grocery stores on every single block. Wish we could have more bodegas though.

Nope
Nope
18 days ago
Reply to  James T.

Safeway is a mess and is shutting down. TJ has zombie apocalypse lines to get in. Co Op is $$.

James T.
James T.
18 days ago
Reply to  Nope

You’re concern trolling.

Caphiller
Caphiller
18 days ago

Typical unintended consequences of out-of-control progressivism. The goal is to help grocery workers, but the city council doesn’t understand the economics of running a low-margin grocery store, so a bunch of workers get laid off instead of helped, and our neighborhood loses a supermarket.

Gina Lockwood
Gina Lockwood
18 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

and now one of them wants to be mayor? no thanks!

Daveon
Daveon
18 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

Or the employees get redeployed to the non-marginal stores less than a mile away on Broadway, of which there are two.

Let’s be honest, there’s no way this location was particularly viable. It was hardly ever that busy and you could almost always get parking – that speaks to operational problems that an extra few thousand a day in direct labour costs isn’t going to impact.

Caphiller
Caphiller
18 days ago
Reply to  Daveon

The small size made it marginal, but the 20% jump in labor costs probably pushed it over the edge. And we lost a nice grocery store and a bunch of working class jobs.

btwn
btwn
18 days ago

If those two stores were already making losses during a time of exceptional population growth pre-pandemic, I suspect they weren’t long for this world anyway.

dave
dave
18 days ago

I feel bad for the employees at that store, some of whom have been working there for many years. However, I definitely look forward to the eventual redevelopment of the property. I’ve never loved the giant parking lot and long blank wall, both of which are the opposite of what is needed for a vibrant walkable retail strip.

Nope
Nope
18 days ago
Reply to  dave

The parking lot supports a lot of us who visit the other shops….

D W
D W
17 days ago
Reply to  Nope

Really? I’ve been out of the neighborhood for a couple years but I used to shop their occasionally and I felt the lot was enforced and ticketed heavily by QFC.

Carmen
Carmen
18 days ago

Darn, the employees there were nice. Maybe the next company could either renovate the building to make it look nicer, or put up a new building with some charm like the fire station next door.

genevieve
genevieve
18 days ago
Reply to  Carmen

Come on. We all know any development of this space will be the stylistic opposite of the former fire station. It will be a huge, generic monolith that adds housing (good), blocks light (meh) and chips away at what makes 15th a unique neighborhood on its own.

A surface-level parking lot has no place in Seattle’s future, but I can’t get excited about what is going to replace it.

Caphiller
Caphiller
18 days ago
Reply to  genevieve

And the existing qfc isn’t a “generic monolith”? I’m bummed to lose the grocery store, but whatever replaces it will almost certainly be more attractive architecturally and have a better interface w the streetscape.

genevieve
genevieve
17 days ago
Reply to  Caphiller

The existing building is generic, but definitely not a monolith. I’m not crying any tears over the loss of the building, or the parking lot. I would love for a new building to be architecturally attractive and/or have good interface with the streetscape; based on MOST development on Capitol Hill, that seems unlikely. But you’re right, perhaps it won’t be worse than what’s there.

Anyway, I was responding to the hope that we’d get something with charm akin to the old firehouse. There is a zero percent chance of that happening.

Marco
Marco
17 days ago
Reply to  genevieve

I’d settle for steam cleaning the entire building and lot, new paint and planter boxes.

CoCo
CoCo
18 days ago

I am so sorry to see this! Big blow to our once great 15th Ave East. Hopefully another market will try, but with all the homeless and panhandling not counting on it.

CHqueer
CHqueer
18 days ago

Once again the City Council’s stupidity results in lost jobs, shuttered businesses and neighborhood blight. The law was ill-conceived and arbitrary. Why hazard pay for grocery workers but not bus drivers, janitors, nurses and restaurant workers? Yes Kroger is a greedy corporation, but they are also not stupid. That location was already stressed by massive amounts of theft. If they thought they could still generate a profit under these conditions, they would have kept it open. It is a sad day for the neighborhood and the employees, many of which have worked there for years.

Adam
Adam
18 days ago

Probably closures that were going to happen anyway, this just pushed them over the edge. Hopefully, there won’t be any more.

Still, I find it amusing that people think the City Council can just slap certain businesses with ~20% increases to their labor cost with no negative consequences. Businesses like predictability and stability…two things sorely lacking in our local government for several years.

bidab
bidab
17 days ago
Reply to  Adam

100% right these were going to close anyway. Blaming it on the new ordinance amounts to Kroger throwing a tantrum about having to pay fair wages to the employees whose sacrifices are making it possible for the company to rake in pandemic profits.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
17 days ago
Reply to  bidab

Got any evidence for this assertion?

JCW
JCW
18 days ago

With another QFC just 8 blocks west and the increased operational costs this was a smart business decision. The Council’s measure just made it an easy one. Not like the Hill is hurting for grocery options.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
18 days ago
Reply to  JCW

The stores are not really interchangeable. For example, QFC’s fresh fish is of better quality than Safeway’s and very affordable compared with Madison Market’s.

And the walk back up the hill from Broadway is not trivial for everyone with bags of groceries.

Different matter if the #10 bus was running on its old route.

Gina Lockwood
Gina Lockwood
18 days ago

Nice work City Council leadership – killing jobs and closing badly needed grocery stores in the neighborhood. Time to get rid of the current slate of knee-jerk politicians and return to sanity – especially on capitol hill

Daveon
Daveon
18 days ago
Reply to  Gina Lockwood

Oh come on, I’m going to miss it too, but it’s not like the 15th Ave E store is a loss in that regard. There’s a full size Safeway a couple of blocks away, Cone and Stiner a few blocks in the other direction and two other QFCs less than a mile away on Broadway.

Kroger are blaming a business decision they were going to take anyway on the city council. Probably lets them break the lease they were fighting over with regard to redeployment and not lose anything too.

L P
L P
18 days ago

What a shitty place 15th has become compared to just a couple years ago. Arguing over “why” hasn’t changed the downward spiral. -Resident

Dylan Austin
Dylan Austin
18 days ago

I’m sick of hearing the excuse that $4/hr for hazard pay is ruining an industry that is, across the board, experiencing record profits and stock buybacks.

The 15th Ave QFC is small and dumb, I can’t imagine it was performing particularly well before the pandemic. Also, the block was sold and is probably facing redevelopment. Sounds like theater to push a political angle.

Chris Lemoine
Chris Lemoine
18 days ago

Perfect opportunity for the coop at Madison to open a second location in the area. I promise it will be busy.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
17 days ago
Reply to  Chris Lemoine

Madison Market’s prices for many essentials are not affordable for many people.

Liam
Liam
17 days ago
Reply to  Chris Lemoine

That would be nice, also it wouldn’t make people irrationally angry.

bidab
bidab
17 days ago
Reply to  Chris Lemoine

It won’t happen. After the boondoggle in Tacoma and not even being able to afford the price of admission on the Capitol Hill Station bid, Central Co-op will probably stay put and die the slow death of the Union St PCC leeching its market.

Rabbit
Rabbit
17 days ago
Reply to  Chris Lemoine

Then the Madison location would die. It’s the same logic used when they opted to not move into the Cap Hill Station.

Stephen
Stephen
18 days ago

Kroger’s revenue is up $1.7B since the pandemic but paying employees hazard pay is SOCIALISM!! Screw Kroger/QFC!!

CapHillCPA
CapHillCPA
16 days ago
Reply to  Stephen

Revenue is not profit. Yes, they sold 122bn worth of products last year, but their net profit was 1.6bn after taxes. Yes, it’s a huge amount of money but that’s a razor thin margin. If they faced a 20% hike in payroll with no phase in, they probably are losing money on more stores than just this one or two in the area.

HTS3
HTS3
18 days ago

Yes, Kroger has been making good profits. This is spread over a huge number of stores. Management keeps their job by making tough decisions about opening or closing stores. If these stores were profitable, they’d keep them open. I don’t think they are closing stores “to send a message to the City Council.” And stock prices and CEO’s compensation has little to do with actual profits—unfortunately. Just look at the stock market during this pandemic. Some of you, it seems, believe that it’s a smart decision to keep an unprofitable store open, just because. Sorry. That’s not the way business works. Of course this is merely my opinion.

Do better
Do better
18 days ago

Hunter Capital now need to step up as the owner of the QFC block. As they also own the service garage site, it’s in their interest to see that the area does not decline further. City council and council reps need to pay attention too. The permitted location of two adjacent pot shops has been negatively and disproportionately impactful on the 15th Ave area and there have been zero mitigation dollars for addressing the social and commercial costs borne by the community at large. The state ensured that there was no community planning or engagement allowed in the locating of these nuisance businesses and they shoehorned them into an area that is the designated walkway between two high need schools. The visible results speak for themselves.

CoCo
CoCo
18 days ago
Reply to  Do better

Spot on! So true. Going to miss the old 15th Ave. Was so special!

Sheryl
Sheryl
18 days ago

I will miss this QFC and its smallness and neighborhood feel. You can get high quality groceries in a small space, quickly. And the checkers and people who work there are good people. I used to work in grocery at safeway and our unions were stronger then, 30 years ago – with amazon, walmart and others in the space, the unions have weakened, and ad hoc legislation from council is a strange perhaps city-damaging way to address this systemic issue, only highlights desperation of system – wonder if there is a way for city to go to the heart of amazon and pass legislation that is less pure market control and that instead promotes unionization.

Hospital Worker
Hospital Worker
18 days ago

I don’t know – I work at a hospital, on the front line and am neither a nurse nor a doctor (read: I don’t make much money). We certainly never got hazard pay, and the work I do definitely puts me at risk. So, why cherry-pick the grocery store workers? Something doesn’t add up here, so my guess is that the council is trying to stick it to the grocery store chains for a less-obvious reason than actually caring about the workers. I’ll guess it’s a union thing since they make a percentage of what the workers get paid. Follow the dollars.

HTS3
HTS3
18 days ago

Excellent point. I think this City Council is really into “sending a message” without anticipating what the impacts will be.

bidab
bidab
17 days ago

Union politics is probably part of it. But also remember that, while grocers can complain and spin store closures to make the Council look bad, healthcare companies have influence that gives them life-and-death power over politicians’ careers.

Glib Glub
Glib Glub
18 days ago

Will be exciting to see what Hunters Capital does with building redevelopment!

Hospital Worker
Hospital Worker
18 days ago

Sorry – one more thing. For anyone who is all ‘Grocery stores can afford it!’ Maybe they can, but they won’t be the ones paying for it regardless – it’ll be anyone who shops for groceries at their store. No business ever absorbs the cost of increased business expenses – they pass it along to the consumer…it’s basic economics for any business. So, maybe think about that as your groceries will now be more expensive to offset the increased wages approved by city council.

MarciaX
MarciaX
18 days ago

Sure, they pass it along to the consumer — to the extent they can do so while keeping their prices competitive. Same with a higher minimum wage. I’m personally fine with that, as are, I believe, most people in this neighborhood. In addition, low-end workers tend to spend a higher proportion of their wages into the local economy than do high-end professionals, managers and executives, which spreads the benefits as well as the costs among the population at large.

Now, I agree that a flat $4 per hour for grocery workers only (and no other category of workers, and no differentiation between union and nonunion stores) is not ideal, and if it were intended to be permanent I would certainly favor some expansion and fine-tuning. But it’s only for a few more months, and on the whole will definitely — no question — do more good than harm.

CapHillCPA
CapHillCPA
16 days ago
Reply to  MarciaX

There’s no question of competitiveness. All the stores in Seattle will raise their prices to compensate.

MarciaX
MarciaX
16 days ago
Reply to  CapHillCPA

Yes, they may very well do that, although there are other factors involved in pricing decisions such as consumer resistance (i.e., refusal to buy a certain item at all if it’s perceived as overpriced). But the $4 per hour bonus, with all its limitations and tradeoffs, is still good social policy that helps workers who are disproportionately at or near the economic bottom. I’m glad to live among a populace that more or less understands this.

Sheryl
Sheryl
18 days ago

Yeah, it’s not a high margin business, but wages are too low across the board. If grocery unions had more power, pay across all stores would increase, and groceries may be a little more expensive everywhere. It used to be grocery work was a solid middle class job – now Bezos feels comfortable nicking and diming his non-union grocery employees, cutting 5 mins off of their break time here and there. How do union shops compete. Still, strange targeted market control here from council – though grocery workers deserve hazard pay! They deserve more long term too! And better sick leave. And so do other workers, like nurses!!! Union power!

McCloud
McCloud
18 days ago

On one hand, it’s a pretty bad look for Kroger/QFC considering that TJ’s went the complete opposite direction and PCC appeared to have been PR’d into accepting the $4 wage hike, but…

Can Seattle City Council do one fucking thing right? Kevin at SCC Insight wrote an article back in late January warning about this as the $4 figure appeared to be completely arbitrary. “Good intentions” aside, this is a horrendous time to just outright lose any grocery stores.

Adam
Adam
18 days ago
Reply to  McCloud

No matter the intentions of the Council, their knee-jerk policies seem to end up either getting the city sued (which we must pay to defend) or with policies that have unintended consequences because they weren’t thought through.

I don’t think the city should totally kowtow to businesses, but it’s also arrogant to think that Seattle is so special they’ll just invest here no matter how hostile the conditions. Ultimately, the average person will end up bearing the brunt of it, through some combination of less choice and higher prices. Or in the case of dozens of QFC employees, a lost job.

Tom
Tom
18 days ago

You can’t approve a legislation without making sure these big corporations have no way to back out.

Liz Winger
Liz Winger
18 days ago

Why are you guys trying to figure out who makes what and how much Kroger can spread around? Makes no sense to do that as they’re not gonna do what you guys think they should do anyways. If you want to do something. Shop at Safeways, TJs, Whole Foods, Grocery Outlet, Winco, etc.

Eric F
Eric F
18 days ago

Kroger CEO pay and their profits through the pandemic aside, Hunters Capital’s ownership of the property and their likely redevelopment plans aside… the little QFC on 15th is the best! Sure it’s an ugly ass building, but the small store packs a lot of stuff in that space. I can pretty much find everything I need in there – essential or specialty, generic or fancy, Big Food or local and artisanal. The staff are a funny and helpful crew of characters. The store has soul. The new PCC and Whole Foods (and Trader Joe’s) lure me away periodically for other items, but the QFC on 15th gets the bulk of my everyday grocery needs business. I’ve been going there at least a few times a week (occasionally two or three times in one day!) in the 12 years that I’ve lived in the neighborhood. I will sorely miss the funny little homey grocery store that makes the 15th Ave E neighborhood feel like a neighborhood.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
17 days ago
Reply to  Eric F

All true.

Ellen
Ellen
17 days ago
Reply to  Eric F

I couldn’t agree more! I’m really disappointed they’re closing. I can never find everything I need at Safeway.

HTS3
HTS3
17 days ago
Reply to  Eric F

Exactly. I’ve gotten to know the people who work there and I prefer the small shop to the big box. If it had a different name on it we’d be calling it cute and starting a go-fund me page.

Sneed Urn
Sneed Urn
18 days ago

This appears to be retailiation. Kroger’s argument was about razor thin profit margins and a level playing field? Though I understand grocery stores do traditionally have thin profit margins, profits don’t seem to be a problem. So a disingenuous complaint.

The level playing field argument is far more razor thin than their profits. If all grocery stores are mandated to pay temporary hazard pay, the playing field is still level. If prices need to go up to cover the wages then they need to go up for everyone.

But let them close. Let them lose market share. They are undoubtedly Free Market cult members. And here the Free Market will cut them out. The void will be filled by another venture. Fine with me. Let me just point out that “Enlightened Self-Interest” does not mean greed. It means, the best way to be secure is to make others you deal with secure because of you. To work with people instead of against them.

CapHillCPA
CapHillCPA
16 days ago
Reply to  Sneed Urn

Their profit margin last year was 1.3%. Sales of 122bn and net profit of 1.6bn.

The real question here is why our city council is so arbitrary. Where does $4 come from? Did they consult with grocery stores (including local outfits like Madison market as well as chain stores) about likely impact to try and reach a deal to help the workers?

No, they just passed a law and damn those vicious capitalists who have they audacity to run a business where they make $1.013 for every $1 they spend.

Capitol Hill Resident
Capitol Hill Resident
18 days ago

I hate big grocery stores and I hate having to drive and park just to pick up a few things. I could easily walk to this grocery store and I loved its small size and friendly, stable workforce. It was literally my favorite grocery store. I don’t get why people on this thread think bigger grocery stores farther away from people are a good idea. Cone and Steiner is cute but costs an arm and a leg and doesn’t have enough regular foods. I would guess that the folks who are happy about this closure are Kshama fans and hate Amazon. But you see if it is too hard to get stuff in person while walking, I will just order from Amazon. Happy now?

Nope
Nope
17 days ago

Yup – if you are old or have kids then walking really isn’t an option, the Safeway in the udistrict just disappeared as well. If the parking lot disappears then a lot of other business on 15th will be hit.

Liam
Liam
17 days ago

C&S asking for tips always feels confusing to me.

Caphiller
Caphiller
17 days ago

Bingo. I don’t have a car; I walk to get groceries. For every neighborhood grocery store that closes, it means either more cars on the road driving to farther stores, or more delivery vans (likely Amazon).

m m
m m
17 days ago

I’m confused by this news because I heard over a year ago that this location was going to close. So now they’re… still closing, and blaming the hazard pay for it?

Sure, ok, QFC.

CHqueer
CHqueer
17 days ago
Reply to  m m

Yes, you are confused

m m
m m
17 days ago
Reply to  CHqueer

good job, very high quality internet comment, A+, hope you feel better for that one.

Reality Check
Reality Check
17 days ago

My wife is a nurse and she doesn’t get hazard pay. I guess the guy stocking the bananas is in more danger than a medical professional.

yetanotherhiller
yetanotherhiller
17 days ago
Reply to  Reality Check

More nurses than grocery workers have been vaccinated.

Do better
Do better
17 days ago
Reply to  Reality Check

Medical professionals choose a profession with medical hazards attached. Their quite generous compensation, which we all pay for, reflects that. That’s not the case for grocery store workers. They deserve every ounce of extra compensation and more, including respect.

Reddington
Reddington
17 days ago

As an FYI for those reading this thread, the CEO, W. Rodney McMullen is a major donor in the….surprise….Republican Party. The singular Democrat he has supported is Sherrod Brown because he lives in the same district – sort of buying off your neighbors to ensure you are treated well. If you want to check out this info yourself: https://www.opensecrets.org/search?q=Rodney+McMullen&type=donors

CapHillCPA
CapHillCPA
16 days ago
Reply to  Reddington

Why is this relevant?

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
15 days ago
Reply to  CapHillCPA

Why is this relevant?

Republicans despise proper compensation for workers because something…something free market, something…something Ayn Rand.

So it’s no surprise QFC took planned store closures and chose to politicize it in some Bizarro World way of justifying their desire to not properly compensate their workers.

Tina
Tina
17 days ago

What is more odd is why the city council is doing this now when the “hazard” has been in place for a year now, and the hazard is now going away due to the vaccine etc. The grocery workers I know have been very happy to have a job, compared to other businesses that were not considered essential. Grocery usually pays more than most retailers anyway, with great bene’s.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
15 days ago
Reply to  Tina

<em>What is more odd is why the city council is doing this now when the “hazard” has been in place for a year now, and the hazard is now going away due to the vaccine etc.</em>

The United States is still averaging nearly a 9/11 every day in COVID deaths. The hazard is not “now going away” and will not start going away until at least a few months of intense vaccinations have passed. We aren’t even to the point of intense vaccinations yet.

<em>The grocery workers I know have been very happy to have a job, compared to other businesses that were not considered essential.</em>

This is a mentality that is only seen in the United States where workers should be “happy or lucky they have a job”, even if said job comes with unnecessary hazards and crappy pay. If they don’t like it, they can easily get a better job, right?

In other first world countries, companies are happy to have workers and treat them appropriately. Non-essential workers that were sent home were taken care of, unlike here where McConnell said “let them eat cake”.

Our state of employment and workers rights in this country is abysmal and flat out embarrassing.

Dennis
Dennis
17 days ago

A slap in the face of both the employees and the customers. I can accept an economic decision, But this kind of ungracious flippant, “your fault” statement easily provokes, good riddance and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I cross your greedy doors.

Dennis
Dennis
17 days ago

Certainly no mission of service here. Simple greed. their attitude and statement speaks to their character.