(Feb. 12, 2016) — Ladies and gentlemen, we have a number — and a launch date.
The ballot initiative to raise Washington state’s minimum wage and allow all workers in the state to earn paid sick leave is Initiative 1433. Filed last month and supported by Raise Up Washington — a coalition of union, faith and community organizations — I-1433 would raise the state minimum wage incrementally to $13.50 and provide opportunities to earn up to seven days of paid sick and safe leave per year for employees who currently lack that benefit.
I-1433 petitions will be printed next week and a massive volunteer signature-gathering campaign will immediately commence. Unions throughout the state plan to take a leading role in gathering the 250,000 valid signatures needed by the end of June to qualify I-1433 for this fall’s ballot. A campaign kickoff event is planned for Saturday, March 5 at 8:30 a.m. at the Washington State Labor Council’s Seattle office, 321 16th Ave. South. Participants will get a quick training on petition do’s and don’ts and then fan out across the city to begin the effort! Please RSVP if you plan to attend.
Can’t make it to the March 5 kickoff? Sign up here to volunteer for signature gathering. (Make sure you list your union or organization on the form, if you have one.) Petitions and instructions will be sent to you.
Also check out the updated schedule of community forums around the state on I-1433 and make plans to attend.
BACKGROUND — Washington’s state’s minimum wage is currently frozen for the second straight year at $9.47/hour. Even before deducting taxes, that’s less than $20,000/year for a full-time worker. For many, that means public assistance is needed just to meet their families’ basic food, health care and other needs. That’s not right. People who work full time doing honest work should not live in poverty.
Meanwhile, one million people in Washington are denied paid sick leave at their jobs. Paid sick leave allows ill workers to stay home –away from coworkers and customers — without losing pay. But the people who can least afford time off without pay, including many who handle food and interact with the public in retail and even health care jobs — are the most likely to have no or very limited paid sick leave.
If Initiative 1433 qualifies for this fall’s ballot and is approved by voters, Washington’s state minimum wage will be increased in phases over four years, beginning at $11 (2017), $11.50 (2018), $12 (2019), and $13.50 (2020). I-1433 also allows workers to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, so they can take care of themselves and their family when they’re sick without fear of being fired or losing a day’s wage.
Employers who already provide these wages or more paid leave would not be affected, and cities like Seattle, SeaTac and any other municipality that has chosen or chooses in the future to enact higher minimum wages or sick leave standards are free to do so under I-1433.
I-1433 would raise wages for 730,000 low-income workers in Washington state. Women and people of color would especially benefit, given that nearly 30 percent of women workers and more than 40 percent of Black and Latino workers currently make less than $13.50 per hour. An increase from $10 to $13.50 per hour would provide an additional $607 to a low-wage worker per month for basic needs. This is equivalent to feeding a family of four for a month, or covering the cost of buying health insurance for an adult in most parts of the the state.
TAKE A STAND — YOU can make change happen in Washington state. SIGN UP NOW to volunteer to collect signatures for Initiative 1433! Also check out the updated schedule of community forums around the state on I-1433 and make plans to attend.