$13.50 statewide minimum wage here? New initiative planned for fall ballot

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SEATTLE -- Get ready for a big battle this fall over whether Washington should raise the state’s minimum wage.

Supporters are pushing for a big hike, to $13.50 an hour.  They are collecting signatures now to put the measure before voters in November.

“We fundamentally think if people work hard and play by the rules, they should be able to support their family,” said Sarah Cherin, spokesperson for I-1433.  “$9.47 is just absolutely inadequate,” she said of the current state minimum rate.

Here’s the schedule of the four-year phase-in plan under Initiative 1433:

  • 2017:  $11.00
  • 2018:  $11.50
  • 2019:  $12.00
  • 2020:  $13.50

But there’s already backlash from those who argue that such a large increase will cause businesses to cut jobs.  Opponents argue that every time you raise the minimum wage, you actually make it harder for businesses, especially small businesses to afford employees, so they lay some off.  But those pushing this initiative argue that businesses should do better when more people have more money to spend.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, I-1433 would give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave each year.  Supporters have until July to collect 250,000 valid signatures, which they are on track to do.  So, expect a big ballot fight this fall.