Know Your Rights: WA State's new Paid Sick & Safe time off and a rise in the Minimum Wage

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Paid Sick & Safe Days

Beginning January 1, 2018 you have the right to paid time off, free from discipline, if you or a member of your family is sick or if you are the victim of domestic violence. 

  • You can take paid leave if you are ill for a doctor’s appointment OR to care for a sick child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent. You can also take paid leave to cope with the consequences of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking. 
  • You will earn a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, or more if your contract gives more sick time. 
  • You cannot be penalized in any way by your employer for missing work for any reason covered by the law. This includes absence control polices such as occurrence systems that count an absence toward discipline.
  • You have access to your paid leave any day that you miss work for a covered reason, even on the first day. 
  • You are eligible to use paid sick leave after 90 days of employment, or sooner if your contract allows it. 
  • Each year you can carry over up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to your bank the following year.
  • The current time in your contractual sick leave bank (including PTO time) can be used to satisfy the requirements of the law, but that time must meet all the other requirements of the law.
  • You must notify your employer prior to missing a shift as soon as is reasonable under the circumstances. 

If you have any questions about your Paid Sick and Safe Leave rights, speak to a steward or call your Union Representative at 1-800-732-1188.

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Minimum Wage

UFCW members stood up to win better wages in our contracts and on the ballot.

As of January 1, 2018:

The new statewide minimum wage will be $11.50
The new Seattle minimum wage for large employers will be $15

Your contract may have wage escalators that mean you automatically get a raise when the minimum wage goes up. 

Check your contract or talk to your shop steward for details or call your Union Representative at 1-800-732-1188.

New Initiative for Statewide Paid Sick Days & Higher Minimum Wage

UFCW 21 members Ariana Davis, a grocery store worker at Safeway, and Jane Teske, an RN at Providence Everett, both spoke at the press conference in the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia on January 11 to file a petition for a new state law. We need higher wages. Especially for those with the lowest incomes in the state who find it next to impossible to make ends meet. We also need to have access to paid sick days when we are ill and be allowed to use paid sick days without getting disciplined.

Why are we working on this Initiative? 

For years we have pushed for a higher minimum wage on the lowest wage scales as well as proposed paid sick days without discipline. Neither proposal had gotten very far in most contract negotiations. UFCW 21 members successfully fought to pass higher wage laws and paid sick leave in cities across the State–like Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Seatac. The decision was made that 2016 is the right time to push for this change in our state law to help everyone. 

Higher Minimum Wage Raises Entire Economy

The promise of America should be for everyone, not just the wealthy few. Yet over the years our economy has swung more out of balance. While the richest 1% and big corporations made record profits, working families have been left behind. Recent studies have shown that a fair wage for working families benefits the economy. Individuals would have more money to spend, training costs are reduced, employee turnover rates go down and customer service goes up. Supporting workers in their fight for a living wage will ultimately benefit our entire community.

Paid Sick Leave for All – Better Health, Stronger Communities, Improved Workplaces

At least one in four grocery store workers say they have come to work sick in the last year because sick leave was not available when they needed it. Many health care workers who have paid sick days don’t use them because they get disciplined when they do. Grocery store workers and health care workers and others are on the front lines of food and patient safety. It is important to the health of our entire community that these workers have paid sick leave so workers aren’t forced to go to work sick.


Initiative Filed for Paid Sick Leave and Higher Minimum Wage

Ariana Davis (shown here), a UFCW 21 grocery member from Safeway and Jane Teske, a UFCW 21 health care member from Providence both spoke at the kick off press conference this morning in the Washington Secretary of State's office after the initiative was officially filed.

Today, your union, UFCW 21, along with a coalition of labor, faith, and community organizations introduced a people's initiative with the Secretary of State's office to raise up working standards for all Washingtonians.

The proposed initiative gives workers up to seven earned sick days and phases in a minimum wage up to $13.50.

For years we have negotiated for wage increases and paid sick leave - on the first day you are sick and free from discipline. For years we have tried unsuccessfully to get statewide elected politicians to address these issues. Locally, we have pushed to address these issues in Seattle, Seatac, Tacoma, Bellingham, Spokane and Olympia and already won in some places. But we can't wait any longer for a statewide solution. 2016 is the year to win these for workers all across the state.

UFCW 21 members and workers around this state are rising up together for this change in the law. We are going to need all of us to come together to ensure that this initiative gets passed and the first step will be to gather enough signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

Click on the button below to pledge to gather signatures from your friends, family and coworkers to help us pass a law to give all Washington workers paid sick leave and better wages. 




The ability to take a paid day off to care for ourselves or a loved one shouldn't be negotiable, it should be a basic right. When we ensure working people across Washington aren't forced to choose between a pay check and a sick child, we can prevent the spread of disease and make our communities safer, healthier, and stronger.


The promise of America should be for everyone, not just the wealthy few. Yet over the past four years, our economy has swung out of balance. While the richest one percent saw their incomes rise 31 percent and big corporations made record profits, working families have been left behind. We can fix this. Increasing Washington's minimum wage will lift hundreds of thousands of working families out of poverty, respecting people's real contributions with fair wages that help them afford food, a home, and a life for themselves and their kids. Since Seattle and SeaTac passed minimum wage increases, the unemployment rate has fallen, creating more opportunity and a fair shake for working families and putting more money into local small businesses which helps our economy thrive. Everyone across the state deserves this opportunity.

UFCW 21 Endorses Early for O'Brien and Sawant in Seattle Council Races

UFCW 21, the state's largest private sector union, announced this morning that it has endorsed both Mike O'Brien (District 6) and  Kshama Sawant (District 3) for the 2015 Seattle City Council races. These are early endorsements. More decisions are yet to be made about other candidates for Council seats.

"Mike O’Brien and Kshama Sawant have given our members many reasons to vote for them and have earned the support of UFCW 21. Both have been leaders on the Council for working families.  They fought for a strong minimum wage law and they understand good jobs have to be part of smart development for all," said Todd Crosby, Secretary-Treasurer for UFCW 21.

O’Brien was a champion for the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Days law and both he and Sawant have supported the strong enforcement of the law.

These two elected officials consistently consider the interests of workers and good jobs over the interests of big developers and big corporations. O'Brien and Sawant are proven leaders on the council and have led on issues important to us. We look forward to them returning to the Council.

UFCW 21 has over 10,000 members who live or work in Seattle. These members are part of our large union of 45,000 members across the state. UFCW 21 members work in grocery stores, retail, health care and other industries. Our union considers endorsements for candidates who are champions for working people.  

Kshama Sawant (District 3) 

Kshama Sawant (District 3) 

Mike O'Brien (District 6) 

Mike O'Brien (District 6) 

Fall 2015 Newsletter

Fall 2015 Newsletter


Members Stand Up for Their Rights
Our 2015 Legislative Agenda 
Concerns Raised About Non-Profit Hospitals’ Debt Collection
Providence United – 5,000 Strong and Growing
Central Co-op Leads Nation on Progressive Wages  


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