As cities like Seattle and Burien have passed hazard pay for grocery workers, the Martin Luther King County Council is now considering making a similar move for unincorporated King County. In a recent interview on MyNorthwest, Councilmember Dunn says “my view is that it should be the free market that decides this stuff”, even going so far to claim the invisible hand of the market has become replaced by the “direct fist of government”.
Despite historically high stock values and productivity, wages have been stagnated for decades as the cost of living and consumer prices have skyrocketed. The $15 minimum wage came about after the federal minimum wage had been stuck under $8 for nearly 15 years– and still it is only at $7.25 since 2009. Despite no evidence or examples, claiming wages will increase with the free market is a consistent talking point brought up by ideologically-driven politicians who refuse to raise the minimum wage. On the contrary, Seattle has reinforced to the modern economist that minimum wage increases benefit the economy.
In the same article, Councilmember Dunn proposed that the hazard pay for grocery workers should come from taxpayers to the county rather than from the corporate chains. This doesn’t seem appropriate, as the county government is dealing with a budget shortfall while grocery stores have increased profits since the pandemic began. Effectively, taxpayers would be subsidizing grocery chain investors under this suggestion.
County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is up for election this year, being challenged by two opponents, so far, Kim-Khanh Van and Chris Franco.