Minimum wage hikes pass in Washington, three other states

Washington voters overwhelmingly passed a phased-in increase of the statewide minimum wage, as expected. (Results here.)

Initiative 1433 will raise the hourly wage by roughly $4 over three years, to $13.50. The measure also requires employers to provide paid sick leave — at least one hour for every 40 worked — that could be used to care for family members or as “safe leave” for those who miss work because of domestic violence.

The state’s current minimum wage is $9.47 an hour.

As the Seattle Times editorial board writes, Washington state leads the nation on minimum wage. They approve.

The initiative, which The Seattle Times editorial board endorsed, gradually raises the statewide minimum wage from the current $9.47 to $11 in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12 in 2019 and $13.50 in 2020. It also requires employers to provide paid sick leave.

It is the nation’s most aggressive statewide minimum-wage increase on ballots countrywide in 2016. It fits with Washington’s history of having a robust wage floor; it also fits the national trend. Three other states voted on minimum-wage increases to $12 in Tuesday’s election; Colorado and Arizona approved the increases, and Maine’s initiative was leading.

Backers of a higher minimum wage and paid leave, led by labor unions, have turned to the ballot initiative as part of their national strategy. 

Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington state approved ballot initiatives on Tuesday to increase their state minimum wages, according to early projections.

In addition to raising the minimum wage, the measures in Arizona and Colorado will require businesses to provide employees with paid sick days…

The most ambitious of the minimum wage proposals was Washington’s, which would gradually raise the wage floor from $9.47 per hour to $13.50 by 2020. The other states would all raise theirs to $12 by the same year. Arizona’s minimum wage is currently $8.05, Colorado’s $8.31 and Maine’s $7.50…

Labor unions have been the biggest funders of minimum wage and sick-day measures, often dumping out-of-state money into the efforts. 

Seattle voters also appear to have approved new regulations on the hospitality industry.