Hot of the Grill: Minimum wage initiative announced

Hot of the Grill: Minimum wage initiative announced

Today, proponents announced their intention to put a minimum wage increase initiative on the November ballot. According to their press statement the ballot measure will call for an increase to $13.50 phased-in over four years.

The initiative (Initiative 1433) also has a paid-sick leave element where employees accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. The WRA/WLA is still supporting a statewide solution put forth by legislators. While we support a phased-in approach, we believe age and benefit policies should result from legislative dialogue between elected leaders and not a one-time ballot initiative funded by unions or others.It’s time for the legislature to step in.

$15 Now advocates are sending action alerts to their members asking for followers to email the Washington State Labor Council in order to push for $15 over night instead of the ballot proposal at hand. If you would like to email the Labor Council with your ideas you can do so at

Bills have been introduced in the past two sessions which offered statewide solutions but they couldn’t find support from both political parties.

However, it should be the job of the state to regulate wage and benefit policies. City by city adoption of these policies creates a difficult patchwork of laws for business and greatly increases costs for municipalities.

The WRA/WLA is advocating that the Legislature address the minimum wage issue in the 2016 session and supports raising the minimum wage the “right way” which means Washington’s minimum wage law should recognize all forms of taxable compensation provided to employees, policies should assist businesses in creating important first time jobs, increases in minimum wage should be phased in to allow businesses time to adapt, and all employers should be treated equally and consistently.

In 2013, the City of SeaTac was the first city in the nation to have a $15/hour minimum wage on the ballot.  The SeaTac initiative, which passed by only 77 votes. The SeaTac initiative was the catalyst for a new phenomenon – the adoption of minimum wage, and other benefit standards, at the city level.  Today, there are five different minimum wage levels in Washington State – Seattle with two different wage levels, Tacoma, Sea Tac and the state minimum wage.  Additionally, there are now three different paid sick leave standards in Washington State – Seattle, Sea Tac, and Tacoma.  These issues are surfacing in more communities around the state – including Spokane, Bellingham, Olympia, and Yakima.

In order to keep all options available the WRA and WLA filed an alternative ballot initiative.  Initiative 1518 would:

Increases the minimum wage to $12/hour over four years
Require employers to provide paid sick leave benefits – modeled after the policy adopted in Tacoma in 2015.
Allows a training wage for a six month period.

You can read the full text of the initiative here.

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