I-1433, minimum wage boost and paid sick leave, likely to be on fall ballot; Business groups warn of unintended consequences

Supporters turned in more than 360,000 signatures, far more than the 247,000 required, to qualify Initiative 1433 for the November ballot. This morning, anticipating the event, the NW News Network reported

Backers of the Raise Up Washington campaign say they will submit more than 360,000 signatures Wednesday — virtually guaranteeing it a spot on the fall ballot.

Initiative 1433 would raise Washington’s minimum wage from the current $9.47 per hour to $13.50 by 2020. It would also require employers to provide workers up to seven days of paid sick and safe leave a year beginning in 2018…

I-1433 has the financial backing of labor unions and billionaire minimum wage activist Nick Hanauer.

Business organizations warn of negative consequences if the measure should pass. In a press release, several major statewide business groups say,

Washington employers of all sizes and from a cross-section of industries voiced concern today that although raising the minimum wage through Initiative 1433 sounds good, the unintended consequences could be harmful, particularly for first-time job seekers.

Business groups, including the Association of Washington Business (AWB), Washington Restaurant Association, Washington Lodging Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Association of General Contractors (AGC), Washington Bankers Association, and the Washington Affordable Housing Council oppose the initiative, but also believe that a thoughtful middle ground to increase the minimum wage could have been found in the Legislature.

The release points out that the organizations worked for a compromise measure in the last session, but divisions in the Legislature thwarted their efforts. 

“We want to create opportunities for everyone to succeed without jeopardizing job retention and growth, particularly in rural communities,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “For us, that means support for entry-level jobs and recognition of other compensation that employers already provide like healthcare, retirement and scholarships. Business owners want to see their employees succeed and care about giving people the opportunities that were once given them.”

The Washington Restaurant Association and the Washington Lodging Association, an advocate for raising the minimum wage in a responsible way, also opposes I-1433.

“We went to the Legislature and also submitted our own initiative because we believe the voters deserve more than one option on the ballot. However, in this polarizing election year, there wasn’t support for a moderate voice in either of those venues,” said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association.

The deadline for submitting signatures is Friday.  NW News Network reports that several other campaigns have made appointments to drop off petitions.