WA Restaurant Association supports minimum wage hike “done the right way”

The Washington Restaurant Association announces its support for an increase in the state minimum wage, if it’s done right. The WRA press release explains:

We are in support of an increase in minimum wage done the right way. We have learned through local discussions that there are ways to support neighborhood restaurants and raise compensation for employees,” said Anthony Anton, Washington Restaurant Association president and CEO. “However, our state now has multiple different minimum wages with the likelihood of many more to come. It’s creating a checkerboard of wage laws that are difficult on everyone. We are looking for a positive state-wide solution. Restaurants are calling for local and state lawmakers to join together to find an answer.”

The release points out,

“While business models will have to change to adapt we are already seeing how some restaurants are making innovative changes,” Anton concluded “This coming year, we will see the birth of a new business model in our state. We will be trailblazing and finding ways to do business better – not only to keep our doors open, but also for the growth of our employees and strength of our communities. But if we are going to be successful in this new direction we will need clarity and certainty in this new environment. Washington’s restaurants need state legislators to lead the way for the health of our state. Now is the time.”

The Seattle Times reports,

Anton, and the restaurant group, did not specify what new minimum it would support.

Rather, Anton said that figure would come out of “what the pieces of the puzzle” are, including whether tips would be counted, whether training costs will be factored in, or whether the employer provides tuition assistance.

Additional coverage from the NW News Network.

The complications resulting from different local labor laws was something we noted in our foundation report.

 In terms of wage and benefit policies, Washington has long had the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage. That has now been exceeded in multiple jurisdictions as local governments have adopted their own wage and benefit laws. For example, Seattle adopted a paid sick leave mandate and a $15 minimum wage. Voters in SeaTac passed an initiative setting a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, and labor retention policies affecting transportation and hospitality employers. 

In addition to the absolute costs of these measures, and the challenge they create in competing with other employers not subject to the same mandates, local governments’ wage and benefit regulations create compliance problems for employers operating in multiple jurisdictions. They also create difficulties as employers look to align their human resource policies among cities with different mandates.

The discussion launched by the WRA will doubtless quickly become a key element in the 2016 legislative session.