Tukwila’s minimum wage increase push qualifies for the November ballot
Tukwila — home to thousands of low-wage workers who service the Southcenter Mall and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — looks to raise its minimum wage to at least $17.27 an hour.
Monday, organizing members for the Raise the Wage Tukwila campaign will rally outside Tukwila’s City Hall and present a ballot-qualifying number of signatures for a November vote.
Neighboring cities such as Seattle and SeaTac exceed the state’s minimum wage of $14.49 an hour. The Raise the Wage campaign looks to match Seattle’s hourly minimum wage of $17.27.
The proposal also allocates for a cost of living adjustment, resulting in an effective hourly minimum wage of $18. The minimum wage standard would take effect in July 2023 for businesses with over 501 employees, and gradually phase- in over three years for smaller businesses. A select group of small businesses is exempt.
“This gives a voice to people who aren’t able to get a higher wage through their employer,” said Tukwila worker Indyah Hall. “It’s hard to save up because there’s not much left of your wages if you’re making 14 or 15. It’s easy to lose your check as stuff comes up.”
The campaign managed to collect 2,500 signatures to qualify for a ballot vote, exceeding the minimum of 1,661.
Raise the Wage Tukwila represents a coalition of community partners, including the Transit Riders Union.
In March, Transit Riders Union General Secretary Katie Wilson addressed a primary critique of the campaign, that a minimum wage increase could hurt small businesses.
“We’ve got a bunch of small businesses that are supportive of the campaign,” Wilson told KIRO Newsradio. “I think they see that when workers are making more money, they also have more money to spend on local businesses.”
“There was a lot of fear when Seattle’s minimum wage went into effect that businesses weren’t going to be able to afford it, but I think what we saw in practice was that the overwhelming majority of businesses were able to find ways to adjust,” she added.