• Tacoma minimum wage initiative calls for $15 hourly wages

    By: Kevin McCarty


    For a while it didn't look like the 15 Now Tacoma minimum wage initiative would make the ballot. Out of more than 5,500 signatures gathered, about 2,300 were ruled invalid. But the measure made it. So 15 Now Tacoma is beginning its campaign without a lot of resources or cash.
    “We’re going to make a lot of telephone calls, we’re going to go door to door, we’re going to hold events,” said 15 Now Tacoma support Alan Stancliff.  “We’re going to do, just a lot of outreaching, a lot of networking, because we don’t have a lot of money.”
    The initiative would raise the minimum wage within the city limits of Tacoma to $15 per hour immediately with no phase in period.  Some business owners say a sudden hike in wages would mean big cuts for their employees, and even threaten their survival. 
    “We would have to, of course, raise prices,” said Cloverleaf Tavern owner Debbie Brese. “My payroll would go up 27 percent immediately.”
    15 Now supporters say they know they face stiff opposition by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, and expect to be outspent in what could be a tough campaign.
    “What we do have is we have spirit,” said Stancliff, “and we have leather, shoe leather.”
    Tacoma’s City Council could oppose the immediate wage hike with an initiative that would mandate a phased in pay increase.  The city appointed a task force to examine options that includes higher minimum wage supporters and businesses.

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