Washington State already has the second-highest minimum wage in the country “thanks” to the labor unions bosses who paid for a citizen initiative in 1998. Since then, our state’s minimum wage has risen with the cost of living, and is now $9.47 – or more than 30% above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Now another collection of labor bosses – along with $1 million-dollar donor and liberal Seattle gadfly Nick Hanauer – has raised more than $4 million to try and buy another election. This year’s effort, Initiative 1433, would raise the minimum wage in our state to $13.50 in three years, and provide additional employee sick-leave benefits.
As the Seattle Times writes, the initiative would start to catch the rest of the state up to Seattle’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, as an opponent to I-1433 accurately points out, “the economy of the state, she said, ‘is not Seattle. There’s not a big boom’ everywhere in the state.”
Actual business owners are even less enthused by union plans to make their lives harder. As on Pullman restaurant owner admits, “ ‘It would be a very big financial hit’ on her business if I-1433 passes… ‘The initiative is a blunt tool. There’s no way to fine-tune it,’ to account for different circumstances in rural Washington, or struggling areas outside of King County.
That economic reality doesn’t matter to the union bosses paying for the initiative. To them, this is just another way to raise union salaries, as their demands will go up as the lowest wages rise. On the other side, “several business groups oppose the initiative, saying that while Seattle’s booming economy can support a high minimum wage, the rest of the state isn’t faring so well. Boosting the minimum wage in those areas could lead to higher prices and cuts in jobs and work hours.”
Now it will up to voters to decide whether our state’s economy can handle another union-sponsored jolt.