Devon Reid.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) Monday revived a plan to force Evanston supermarkets to give hazard pay to their workers.

His similar proposal made last May went down to defeat on a 7-2 vote in June after businesses objected that it would do nothing to make workers safer.

As Monday’s City Council meeting was ending, Reid moved to place a hazard pay ordinance on the Council’s Feb. 14 agenda for introduction, which would typically lead to final action two weeks later.

Reid said the increase in COVID-19 cases as the omicron variant spreads through the region, coupled with the exclusion of supermarkets from requirements that customers show proof of vaccination to enter other businesses — like restaurants and recreation facilities — justifies mandatory extra compensation for grocery workers.

There was no discussion at the Council meeting of the rationale for excluding supermarkets from the proof-of-vaccination-to-enter requirement or whether expanding that rule to include supermarkets would offer more meaningful protection to workers than hazard pay.

But several alderpersons seemed hesitant to rush debate on the hazard pay concept. An amendment to Reid’s proposal — to only discuss the issue Feb. 14 rather than introduce an ordinance — was adopted on a 7-1 vote.

The payroll processing firm ADP lists 25 jurisdictions in California plus two in Washington state — but none in Illinois — that have adopted pandemic-related hazard pay requirements for certain private sector workers.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. “Reid revives hazard pay plan”

    This is unnecessary in a free market… It will just make it even more expensive to go grocery shopping in Evanston on top of all the recent inflationary cost increases…

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