January 11, 2016
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Minimum wage and safe/sick leave initiative filed with Secretary of State today

A ballot initiative filed this morning would increase Washington’s minimum wage to $13.50 an hour, phased in over four years, starting in 2017. It would also require employers to pay for at least seven days of sick and safe leave per year.

A coalition of unions and workers announced the initiative this morning at a press conference after filing the proposed initiative with the Secretary of State’s office. Initiative supporters have until July 8 to gather about 352,000 registered voter signatures. The Puget Sound Business Journal has more on the initiative.

AWB is reviewing the initiative and will continue to work with lawmakers and others to help wages grow in all sectors of the economy – including entry-level workers.

“Our desire is for a strong, growing economy in which everyone has the opportunity to find a good-paying career and advance in their chosen profession,” AWB President Kris Johnson said. “We believe the Legislature is better positioned to address this important issue by working with small businesses to ensure they aren’t disproportionately harmed by a minimum wage increase that could make it harder for them to grow and hire more workers.”

Washington’s current minimum wage is $9.47 an hour, and is recalculated annually to account for inflation in urban areas, like Seattle, as required by Initiative 688, approved by voters in 1998.

Washington has had the highest minimum wage in the nation for years, although increases elsewhere in 2016 now mean Washington has the fifth-highest statewide minimum wage level. Citywide increases within Washington mean that Seattle’s minimum wage is increasing to $15 an hour, Tacoma’s is increasing to $12 and SeaTac transportation and hospitality workers currently earn $15.24 an hour.

For more on AWB’s engagement with lawmakers and voters on the minimum wage, safe/sick leave, mandatory paid vacation and other workplace issues, contact Government Affairs Director Bob Battles.

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