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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

PCC faces criticism over COVID-19 hazard pay opposition and ‘rapid gentrification’ in the Central District

(Image: PCC)

Less than a year after opening at the corner of 23rd and Union in the heart of the Central District with a vow to prevent “retail racism,” Seattle grocery chain PCC Community Markets is facing new demands in the neighborhood as its new CEO has added to the criticism with opposition to mandatory hazard pay for the city’s grocery workers.

In a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, company CEO Suzy Monford says Seattle should exempt small, local grocers from the hazard pay law and focus on vaccinating workers for COVID-19.

Last week, the Seattle City Council approved legislation requiring $4 an hour hazard pay for grocery workers at companies with more than 500 employees, some of the city’s most at-risk laborers. Durkan is set to sign the emergency measure Wednesday.

Monford says the profit margin for a grocery chain like the cooperative is too thin. “This ordinance disproportionately harms local, independent grocers like PCC Community Markets, which in 2019 had $1.7M in net income,” she writes. “That may sound like a lot, but to put that in context, PCC spent $3M – or nearly 2X 2019 net income — in COVID-related expenses in 2020, including staff member appreciation pay, bonuses and in-store safety protocols, since the start of the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, King County Equity Now is targeting the chain for contributing to “rapid gentrification of the neighborhood” and calling for a major overhaul to the PCC board. Continue reading

Seattle adds required COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery workers

The Seattle City Council Monday approved legislation requiring hazard pay for some of the city’s most at-risk workers during the ongoing pandemic: grocery workers.

“Hazard pay for grocery workers is the least we can do to recognize the dangers they face when going to work, including unmasked customers, customers who are coughing and not respecting social distancing rules, and cleaning of commonly used surfaces,” citywide councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said about the passage of her bill. “Many grocery stores were paying their workers hazard pay early on in the pandemic, but that recognition quickly went away last summer, despite grocery store workers still facing serious risk of contracting COVID-19 at their workplace.” Continue reading

Now hiring: the soon to open Central District Amazon Fresh grocery store

(Image: Amazon Fresh)

Company officials have confirmed to CHS the Central District store in the new mixed-use development at 23rd and Jackson will be part of the company’s first Amazon Fresh groceries to open in its home state of Washington.

We are proud to be bringing hundreds of good jobs with benefits to the Seattle area as we prepare to open the first Amazon Fresh grocery stores in our home state of Washington,” Roetta Greene Elton, district manager of Amazon Fresh grocery stores, said in a company statement on the openings. “We’re excited to provide customers with new, low-priced grocery stores in their neighborhoods and look forward to contributing positively to the community.”

Amazon’s big message about the big new store that has risen where the neighborhood’s Red Apple grocery used to stand focused on one important component: jobs. Continue reading

Amazon Fresh grocery store making plans for 2020 opening in the Central District

(Image: Vulcan Real Estate)

With its city and its Central District neighborhood grappling with issues of equity and gentrification in a summer of Black Lives Matter protest, the new Amazon Fresh grocery coming to 23rd and Jackson will mark an interesting milestone when it opens later this year.

Typically secretive, the Seattle retail and tech giant has yet to confirm the Central District plans CHS unearthed in February describing a new 25,000-square-foot grocery store under construction in the massive Vulcan development underway at the corner where the neighborhood Red Apple and a collection of shopping center businesses used to stand.

But its latest permitting efforts confirm what the company’s PR department won’t — Amazon is opening a new grocery store at 23rd and Jackson. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Safeway redevelopment moves forward with plans for seven-story apartment project above new grocery

The plan to redevelop the Capitol Hill Safeway at 15th and John and its giant surface parking lot as new mixed-housing above a new grocery store is moving forward.

Plans filed with the city last week show the grocery chain’s $11 million-plus, 100,000-square-foot property at the top of Capitol Hill is being planned for a new mixed-use development that will rise seven stories above a new, larger grocery store.

The Daily Journal of Commerce reported the filing Monday. CHS reported on the early planning on the effort in September as developers began the process of setting up community outreach for the design process. Continue reading

The Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s has reopened after being closed ‘indefinitely’ for remodel after Black Lives Matter controversy — Here’s what’s changed

Thanks to CHS reader Andrew for the pictures

The E Madison Trader Joe’s has reopened after one of the stranger remodeling closures in Capitol Hill grocery store history with a new layout that seems optimized for the new world of COVID-19 era retail.

We asked readers in the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group to report back on what they found.

The front has been cleared out with the staff desk area known as The Bridge moved back by the liquor section, and new entrance and exit sections with “with low wooden walls and gates” added to channel shoppers into and out of the store. There are new areas for customers to pack their groceries into reusable bags and aisles across the store have reportedly been widened. And, we’re sorry to report, the sample station has been completely removed from the back of the store. Thoughts and prayers. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s reopening July 1, but its workers call for change

(Images: Lena Friedman)

The E Madson Trader Joe’s will reopen this week after a surprise 18-day closure but many of its employees continue to call for customers to support their push for changes over Black Lives Matter and worker rights at the nationwide grocery chain’s outlet serving Capitol Hill and the Central District.

The store is planned to reopen Wednesday, July 1st.

Last week, a group of Trader Joe’s workers ticked off a series of demands outside their E Madison store Thursday morning in response to its contentious closure — later announced by the company as temporary — when a group of employees participated in Black Lives Matter protesting Friday, June 12.

Suited in all-black clothing and employee name tags, workers shared experiences of racial bias as staff and read off demands they are calling on corporate and store management to respond to ahead of the store’s July 1 planned reopening.  Workers are calling on the company to train staff in implicit bias and de-escalation and come up with a concrete plan to support Black employees and customers going forward. They demand the company upholds the jobs of workers involved in protesting without penalty, that store private security be replaced by a social service agency trained in mental health and de-escalation, and that staff protocols and disciplinary processes are transparent and well-documented. Continue reading

Signs of Capitol Hill (almost) normalcy: Farmers market returns to Broadway

The state’s rate of infection remains high enough to warrant a Washington-wide mask mandate and there is an active occupation protest only blocks away but neighbors can celebrate the return of a weekly staple Sunday as the Capitol Hill Farmers Market returns to Broadway.

But things won’t be totally back to normal.

“While we are psyched to return, the market will be quite different,” the Neighborhood Farmers Market Association writes. “There is a capacity cap and other shopper expectations and modifications.” Continue reading