Today's minimum wage vote in the State House is just the beginning

Fast food & airport workers to meet with legislators next Thursday, urge further action

Just 3 months after fast food workers went on strike in Aberdeen, Bellevue, Kent, and Olympia and rallied at the State Capitol with airport workers, homecare workers, and other suppporters from across Washington, the State House voted 51 - 46 today to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour. The timing is no coincidence.

Sending the minimum wage bill to the Senate is a big step forward for working people in our state. But it's just the beginning.

Higher wages will have direct and immediate benefits for working people like Lily Montes of Spanaway, who spoke before the House Appropriations Committee last month about how poverty wages impact her family: "It’s hard for me to let my youngest know that he can’t have that second glass of milk because he has already had one today. And to tell him that it has to last the week. And then to tell the oldest that you drank too much milk today. Stop drinking the milk and eating the cereal," said Lily, a single mother of 3 boys who has one job as a homecare worker and a second job at Chuck E. Cheese. "It's hard to have to tell your kids they can’t have the food that they need. I feel ashamed. It’s not fair and it’s not right."

Representatives like Matt Manweller of Ellensburg may rant in nonsensical disagreement over the value of higher pay, but his constituents in Ellensburg and people across Washington State & across the country know that higher pay is good for workers, good for communities, and good for the whole economy. That's why a $15 minimum wage wins support from 63% of voters nationally.

The need is great. "Why are we having so many difficulties when we are the ones burning our hands and breaking our backs to bring in the money that has other people sitting quite comfortably in life, living in homes and driving cars that someone like me doesn’t even dare dream about," asks Anna Anderson of Aberdeen, who does her best to support her family on her wages from Jack in the Box. "Why not us too?"

When workers like Lily and Anna rise up and speak out against income inequality, it changes what's politically possible. That's why members of the House voted to pass these bills today. And it's why Thursday, Mach 12, 2015, poverty-wage workers with Working Washington will be meeting with legislators to share stories like these and call for action on wages, sick days, and workers rights. As recently leaked documents from ALEC show, they will be up against big-bucks corporate lobbyists intent on turning back the clock on workers rights. But as we’ve seen in SeaTac and Seattle, workers are up to the fight.

“$15/hour in SeaTac & Seattle was just the beginning,” said Sejal Parikh, Working Washington Executive Director. “Workers are rising up, speaking out, and turning the tide against income inequality. We’ve won overwhelming public support, and now we’re beginning to see things change in the Legislature too."


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: