Initiative 1433 will help our workers, our families and our economy thrive.

It will raise the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and will give more than 1 million workers the opportunity to earn paid sick and safe leave. By raising the wage to $13.50 for more than 730,000 workers, we will put $600 more into the pockets of a minimum-wage worker every month.1

Raise Up Washington is the coalition of workers, unions, faith leaders, businesses and community organizations working to pass Initiative 1433 this November, which would raise the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 over four years and give every Washington worker the opportunity to earn paid sick and safe leave.

The coalition working to pass this important initiative is broad and diverse. Endorsements for Initiative 1433 include the Main Street Alliance, representing hundreds of small business owners across Washington; the Children’s Alliance; the Washington Academy of Family Physicians; the National Physicians Alliance; the YWCA of King and Snohomish Counties; the Seattle Human Services Coalition; the League of Women Voters; the Greater Seattle Business Association; OneAmerica; the Faith Action Network; Greater Spokane Progress; the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the Low Income Housing Institute and dozens of other groups across the state.

It’s important to remember that the current state minimum wage is not enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the state.2 It doesn’t matter if you live in Bellingham, Spokane, Aberdeen or Davenport — $9.47 an hour is not enough for housing and other living necessities. But no one who works full-time should still struggle to make ends meet. Initiative 1433 will gradually raise the wage to $13.50 over four years for more than 730,000 workers and families.

Right now, more than 1 million Washington workers have no access to earning paid sick leave. That puts the health of our families and our entire communities at risk.

Nowhere is paid sick leave more important than in the restaurant industry, where 70 percent of all food-related stomach flu outbreaks start but 1 in 5 restaurant workers report going to work sick out of fear of losing their jobs.3

No one should have to decide between staying home to take care of themselves and losing a paycheck. Allowing all workers to earn paid sick leave will make our communities healthier and safer from dangerous outbreaks.

Data has clearly disproved this scare tactic from the corporate lobbying groups that oppose Initiative 1433.4 In fact, a National Employment Law Project study showed that over the course of 70 years, every single increase in the federal minimum wage led to increases in overall employment levels, except in the midst of a recession.5

When low-wage workers earn more, they spend more, local businesses make more and in-turn hire more. That’s why every state that raised its minimum wage in 2014 saw faster job growth than states that left their wages stagnant.6

The University of Washington team studying the impacts of the minimum wage increase in Seattle found no evidence of price increases across all retail sectors as a result of the minimum wage increase to $15.7

More than 30 cities and five states have passed similar paid sick leave laws — including Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham and Spokane, here in Washington.

Allowing all workers to earn paid sick leave makes our communities healthier and safer from dangerous outbreaks, and we’ve seen paid sick leave policies working across the country. In fact, according to a recent report, cities that passed paid sick leave policies like the one in Initiative 1433 have seen a reduction in flu transmission rates.8

Ensuring all Washington workers have the ability to earn paid sick leave makes our families healthier and stronger. Today, women make up a majority of workers in many low-wage industries industries across Washington’s economy, including health care, restaurants and professional childcare. These women are the least likely to have paid sick and safe leave, despite the fact that mothers are 10 times more likely to stay home with a sick child than their male partners.9

Healthy children have the best opportunity to achieve in school. When kids have to go to school sick because their parents can’t afford to stay home, they can fall behind and even pass their illnesses to other children and teachers — and that impacts all of us. Among parents of children in childcare, 62 percent said their child was unable to attend daycare at least once because of illness in the past year, but one-third of parents of young children are concerned about losing jobs or losing pay when taking off work to care for their sick children.10 In the same study, some parents with kids in childcare say taking their sick child to the emergency room is more convenient than seeing a primary care doctor.

The more than 730,000 Washingtonians who would get a raise under Initiative 1433 come from all backgrounds and all walks of life — they are food service workers, child care providers, grocery workers and EMTs, among many other professions.

Additionally, 6 in 10 minimum wage workers in Washington are women.11 Since women are now the primary breadwinners in more than 40 percent of households with children, Initiative 1433 will help lift up women, children and families across the state.12

The other reality is that people of color make up a disproportionate number of Washington workers who work hard but still struggle to make ends meet. Discrimination and system barriers have left 41 percent of African-American workers and 45 percent of Latino workers earning less than $13.50 an hour — double the rate of white workers.13

By raising the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years for more than 730,000 workers, Initiative 1433 will put $600 more in the pocket of a minimum-wage worker every month.14 And when low-wage workers earn more, they spend more in their communities, which means businesses make more and hire more. It’s estimated that Initiative 1433 will inject $2.5 billion in new spending into the economy every year.15

Raising the minimum wage boosts local economies. That’s why every state that raised its minimum wage in 2014 saw faster job growth than states that left their wages stagnant.16

This is a common scare tactic that just isn’t true, and just distracts from the real conversation about raising the minimum wage. Studies have proven that raising the minimum wage has nothing to do with teen employment.17

More importantly, this perpetuates a false and outdated myth about minimum wage workers — that many are teens or first-time workers. In reality, 88 percent of minimum-wage workers are age 20 or older and the average age is 35. Minimum-wage workers in Washington come from all ages, all walks of life and all kinds of careers.

Paid safe leave helps empower domestic violence survivors to take care of themselves and their families, find a secure living situation and even go to court to take out a protection order — without losing a paycheck. In Washington, 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.18

Economic independence is one of the best predictors of whether a woman is able to get out of an abusive relationship, and abusers often use finances to keep their victims from leaving.19 Low-wage workers — the majority of whom are women — are at a particular disadvantage, living paycheck to paycheck as it is, and unable to miss even one day’s pay to seek medical care or contact authorities.

Sexual assault and domestic violence survivors should not have to risk economic security just to take a day off work to seek help or get safe. No mother should have to wait for her abuser to go to work so she can leave with her kids for a family member’s house or another safe place, only to worry about showing up for her shift in a few hours.

No — and this is an intentional distortion of the truth. In reality, according to the University of Washington team studying the impacts of the minimum wage increase in Seattle, workers are earning more, working more hours, more jobs were added and more businesses opened.20

Additionally, the UW team also found that there has been no evidence of price increases across all retail sectors because of the minimum wage increase.21

While cities like Seattle and SeaTac may raise their minimum wages higher than $13.50, those same approaches don’t make sense for the entire state. That’s why Initiative 1433 would gradually raise the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years — the number that makes sense for all of Washington’s diverse communities.

The current minimum wage isn’t enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment and other living necessities anywhere in Washington, no matter where you live.22 Gradually raising the wage to $13.50 over four years gives business owners predictability and time to plan, and will help workers, families and communities across Washington thrive.

Washington’s economy is diverse. While the Seattle area is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, some parts of the state are growing more slowly and also have lower costs of living.

Raising the state minimum wage to $13.50 over four years is the common-sense, middle-of-the-road approach for all of Washington’s communities.

Initiative 1433 would raise the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years:

  • 2017: $11
  • 2018: $11.50
  • 2019: $12
  • 2020: $13.50

Additionally, workers will start earning paid sick leave (1 hour for every 40 hours worked) beginning in 2018, giving business owners another year to plan.

1 “Three Reasons to Raise Minimum Wage.” Washington State Budget and Policy Center. January 2016.
2 “Out of Reach 2016.” National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2016.
3 “Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 2014.
4 “Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Will Not Lead to Job Loss.” Economic Policy Institute. February 2014.
5 “Raise Wages, Kill Jobs?” Paul K. Sonn and Yannet M. Lathrop, National Employment Law Project. May 2016.
6 “Higher Wages, a Stronger Bottom Line and Job Growth.” U.S. Department of Labor. August 2014.
7 “Report on Baseline Employer Survey and Worker Interviews.” The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team, University of Washington. April 2016.
8 “When workers don’t get paid sick days, everyone else is more likely to get sick.” The Washington Post. August 2016.
9 “Balancing on Shaky Ground: Women, Work, and Family Health.” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. October 2014.
10 “Sick Kids, Struggling Parents.” University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Octoboer 2012.
11 “Women, Minimum Wage and the Wage Gap.” National Women’s Law Center. August 2015.
12 “Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now.” Center for American Progress. June 2014.
13 “Three Reasons to Raise Minimum Wage.” Washington State Budget and Policy Center. January 2016.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 “Higher Wages, a Stronger Bottom Line and Job Growth.” U.S. Department of Labor. August 2014.
17 “Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment?” Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California at Berkeley. April 2011.
18 “Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now.” Center for American Progress. June 2014.
19 “Evaluating Paid Sick Leave.” Economic Opportunity Institute. May 2013.
20 “Report On the Impact Of Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance On Wages, Workers, Jobs, and Establishments Through 2015.” The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team, University of Washington. July 2016.
21 “Report On Baseline Employer Survey and Worker Interviews.” The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team, University of Washington. April 2016.
22 “Out of Reach 2016.” National Low Income Housing Coalition. 2016.