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Stop Demonizing Grocery Stores

by Nicholas Barnard on February 16th, 2021

I’m pretty far left, but I really struggle when people demonize grocery stores for their rationale business practices. I’ve seen people complain about store closures, like the closure of two QFCs in Seattle or the rise of self checkout.

Grocery companies go through huge amounts of revenue to make a little bit of money. Kroger went through $122.286 billion in sales to make $1.659 billion in profit, a 1.3% profit margin.

It’s also worth noting that the two stores that QFC is closing in Seattle are two of the smallest, if not the absolute smallest QFCs. There are drug stores that are easily bigger than these stores. Which leads me to question, why didn’t the law that the council pass include drug stores? They’re almost as essential as grocery stores. Why doesn’t this law include Target which sells a fair amount of groceries? The reason why: The grocery union, UFCW, had the Seattle City council pass a law that required a $4 pay increase.

I generally support unions, but in the instance UFCW is doing an end run around their contracts with the companies by lobbying the city council. Since they couldn’t get their way at the negotiating table, they took care of their employees and only their employees in the city council chambers. I would’ve supported them if they went on strike, even if that strike was illegal and against their contracts with those companies.

I’m agree with Danny Westneat’s recent argument, if Seattle or Washington want to mandate this, they should pay for it. Perhaps they could pay for it with the COVID relief money that has come from the federal government. Local governments have no business dictating hazard pay to businesses when those same governments haven’t implemented hazard pay to their front line workers. (Such as King County Metro who is a major vendor to the City of Seattle, and hasn’t implented hazard pay for their frontline employees.)

Should there be hazard pay for frontline workers? Yes. However, Seattle has gone about it in completely the wrong way.

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