Regarding Tacoma minimum wage task force recommendation for a phased-in $15 minimum wage

Two months ago, the City of Tacoma established a diverse task force to come up with a plan to raise the minimum wage in the city. Today, the task force advanced two minimum wage recommendations to the City Council for consideration.

A nine-member majority of the task force recommended council pass a phased-in $15 minimum wage. Their plan would get workers at big businesses to $15 by 2020, while workers at smaller businesses would get there by 2024. The other six members — all of them from business groups — recommended a four-year phase-in to $12/hour. 

In the lead up to today’s recommendation, members of Working Washington have urged the task force to seize the opportunity to raise up Tacoma and lift up our economy with a minimum wage plan that gets to $15, recognizes that big business can obviously afford to pay that much, and ensures that everyone gets to the same wage in the end.

Here’s how today’s proposals measure up to that standard:

Regarding the proposals presented by the Tacoma minimum wage task force today

An opportunity like this only comes once in a generation: the Tacoma City Council has the chance to pass a minimum wage plan that raises up our city, boosts our economy, and gets every worker to a $15/hour minimum wage. Too bad that some of the phase-in schedules being discussed would leave workers waiting a whole generation to get there.

The five-year phase-in to $15 included in the majority report of the minimum wage task force is already a long time to wait. McDonald’s, Burger King, and the rest of the giant chains can afford to pay $15/hour today. Fast food workers sparked the nationwide fight to $15, and there is absolutely no reason to even consider any proposal that makes these workers wait past 2020 to be able to support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy.

"I pay my bills and I don’t have anything to buy for my daughter. I can’t afford formula," Tacoma McDonald’s worker David Chase told City Council members earlier this month. "I just feel like a $15 an hour minimum would actually give us a chance to support ourselves and carry our own weight."

Working Washington supports a $15 minimum wage that’s good for for workers, good for our communities, and good for our economy.  Tacoma City Council should move forward and seize the opportunity presented by the majority report of the minimum wage task force, and pass a consensus minimum wage law that gets Tacoma workers to $15, recognizes that fast food chains and other big businesses can obviously afford to pay it, and doesn’t include any new loopholes or generation-long phase-ins. 

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