Legislation introduced by City Councilmember Jim Cooper today would make Olympia the latest city in Washington to strengthen its economy by raising wages & expanding workers rights
The City of Olympia could become the next jurisdiction to pass a $15 wage and expand workers’ rights, joining a growing wave of cities and states across the country taking action to raise up workers, address inequality, and strengthen local economies.
The proposed new ordinance will be discussed before council on Tuesday:
Olympia City Council Study Session
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Olympia City Hall
601 4th Ave E, Olympia
Councilmember Cooper’s new legislation would:
- Phase in a $15 minimum wage over two years for large companies, and over four years for smaller employers. Currently, one in three Olympia workers is paid less than $15.
- Provide paid sick & safe time for all workers. About 1 million workers in Washington State don’t have any paid sick time, and half of food service workers report that they regularly go to work sick.
- Ensure work schedules are compatible with family, school, and life by requiring 11 hours of rest between shifts, 3 weeks notice of schedules, and allowing current employees to have a chance to access additional hours before other employees are brought on. In Olympia, 53% of hospitality workers and 42.9% of retail workers currently work part time.
“I love my job — except for the fact that I can’t pay for rent, food, internet, electricity, or my medical bills,” said Nicola Purpura, an Olympia food service worker. “And at my job I might have 25 hours one week, and 11 the next. I work any time they call me in.“
"We have very beautiful and vibrant local businesses here that are really suffering because the common person doesn't have enough money to go shop at those places," said Jae Townsend, who works at Jimmy John's in Olympia. "There are so many little restaurants and little boutiques that I would love and go be a patron of, but I don't have the extra money at the end of the month. I barely have enough to pay my bills."
“A few months ago, I got extremely sick and missed four days of work,” said Nichole Alexander, who works at an Olympia McDonald’s. “I had to borrow money in order to get all my bills paid. I’m trying really hard to get my life back on track. I just really wish I made enough money to get ahead instead of living paycheck to paycheck.”
- A copy of the proposed ordinance is available here.
- The Puget Sound Business Journal wrote last week about “the cuts that never came” after Seattle raised wages.
- A review of Olympia economic and demographic data is available online.
Key facts include:
- 1 in 3 Olympia workers is paid less than $15/hour. The median age of these workers is 38.
- The retail and hospitality industries employ 19.1% of Olympia workers — more than are employed by Government alone.
- According to the most recent Census data, median rent in Olympia is $923. You need a full-time job paying $17.74/hour to afford that rent — or 77 hours at minimum wage.
- 9.8% of employed people in Olympia have earnings below the official Federal poverty level.