Tukwila residents to vote on $3 increase to city’s minimum wage

TUKWILA, Wash. — Tukwila residents will have that option to vote for an increased minimum wage this November as the organization Raise The Wage Tukwila pushes for a three-dollar raise.

If voters approve the ballot initiative, the minimum wage would go from $14.49 to approximately $17.50.

“There are so many low-wage jobs in that city and so many people who are really struggling with rising rents and rising costs of living,” said Katie Wilson, the campaign organizer for Raise The Wage Tukwila.  “Gas, groceries, everything’s getting more expensive and you have people who are living off  $14.50 an hour, $15 an hour, and it’s just not enough.”

As of Jan. 1, Washington’s minimum wage is $14.49 per hour, up from $13.69 per hour in 2021. From 2017-2020, the state’s minimum wage went from $11 an hour to $13.50, a 22.7% increase, while the national inflation rate climbed an average of 1.9%, according to the U.S. inflation calculator.

But over the last two years, the inflation rate has jumped to 7.0% in 2021 and 8.5% this year, while the minimum wage has only increased by 7.3%, a 99-cent raise over the last two pandemic-riddled years.

The minimum wage is $17.27 an hour for most workers in Seattle.

Wilson says the initiative will go after low-paying jobs at the Westfield South Center mall, transportation and airport-related jobs, warehouse jobs, and more.

If the initiative passes, large businesses with 501 or more worldwide employees will pay the new rate beginning July 2023. Companies with less employees will have three years to adjust to the proposed wage. The smallest businesses, defined by employing fewer than 15 employees, will be exempt and continue to follow the state’s minimum wage.

Organizers of the initiative nearly doubled the required amount of signatures needed to bring the issue to the Tukwila City Council for consideration. The Transit Riders Union gathered the signatures.

The council decided unanimously in July to pass the initiative’s fate to the voters.

“Now, we are getting ready to launch our fall campaign to get out there and make sure that you know everyone knows this is happening and has a chance to weigh in,” Wilson said.

This story was originally posted by MyNorthwest.