Coalition files ballot measure to raise Washington’s minimum wage to $13.50.

Coalition files ballot measure to raise Washington’s minimum wage to $13.50.

(Jan.20, 2016)

Raise Up Washington, a newly formed union coalition, filed a statewide ballot initiative on January 10 that would raise Washington’s minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020. The initiative would give employers four years to phase in the higher wage. It also includes a paid sick and safe leave element that would accrue at one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Washington’s current state minimum wage is $9.47.

The initiative is under review by the Attorney General’s office and the Code Reviser for technical drafting errors. The AG’s office will draft the official ballot title and ballot statement. Once those tasks are completed, the coalition has until July 8 to submit approximately 250,000 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

The WRA and WLA are advocating that the Legislature address the minimum wage issue in the 2016 session. The Associations support 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.

The need for a statewide solution is underscored by the fact that Washington now has five different minimum wage levels in Washington State – Seattle with two different wage levels, Tacoma, SeaTac and the state minimum wage.  Additionally, there are now three different paid sick leave standards in Washington State – Seattle, SeaTac, and Tacoma.  These issues are surfacing in more communities around the state – including Spokane, Bellingham, Olympia, and Yakima.