TACOMA, Wash. - "Dignity! Respect! Put 15 in my check!"
They were outside the Tacoma City Hall to rally their supporters, a handful of 15 Now Tacoma volunteers whose initiative to immediately raise the minimum wage is already on the November ballot.
"It's very hard to feed my family with the minimum wage as it is," said Jesse Griggs, a fast food worker.
But Tacoma's mayor is offering a more modest $12-an-hour minimum wage that wouldn't take full effect until 2018.
Les Voros-Bond, owner of Dorky's Bar and Arcade, said Tacoma, with its still vacant downtown storefronts, can't afford a minimum wage above the state's $9.47.
"Seattle can afford it," said Voros-Bond.
Malerie Springer stopped us to say: "Totally against it. I want to stay where we are."
That, despite the fact that her salary at a family-owned business is just a few cents above minimum wage.
"Going up to $15, we're going to get cut back," she predicted. "We're already getting cut back from full-time to part-time. That's with us being where we're at right now. So $15 an hour just is not going to work for small family companies that are around the Tacoma area."
Tacoma residents will get at least one more chance to discuss the issue before the City Council.
Next week, recommendations from a citizens' panel will be on the agenda.