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Initiative to boost Tukwila's minimum wage moves forward

caption: FILE: A stretch of Highway 99 is shown in 2018.
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FILE: A stretch of Highway 99 is shown in 2018.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

There is a new initiative to increase Tukwila's minimum wage by over $3.

The Tukwila City Council can pass the initiative, or voters will get to decide in the November election.

Katie Wilson is the campaign organizer of Raise The Wage Tukwila. Wilson said many who signed the initiative thought it was reasonable for Tukwila workers to make similar wages as surrounding cities.

"A lot of people in Tukwila commute to Seatac or Seattle for jobs," Wilson said. "Partly because minimum wage is higher in those cities. Maybe, they would like to work closer to home. But, the jobs in Tukwila don't pay as much."

Tukwila currently pays Washington state's minimum wage of $14.49. If the initiative passes the wage will be boosted to rates matching Seatac's minimum pay for hospitality and transportation workers. That's $17.54. Larger employers, 501 or more employees, in Seattle pay a minimum of $17.27.

Wilson says the initiative will go after low-paying jobs at the Westfield South Center mall, transportation and airport-related jobs, warehouse jobs and more.

If the initiative passes, large businesses with 501 or more worldwide employees will pay the new rate beginning July 2023. Businesses with less employees will have three years to adjust to the proposed wage. The smallest businesses, less than 15 employees, will be exempt and continue to follow the state's minimum wage.

Organizers of the initiative collected more than 3,000 signatures, nearly double the required amount, to bring the minimum wage issue to the Tukwila City Council for consideration.

The Council is expected to discuss the initiative in July. If council members don't pass it, then voters will get to decide via the November ballot.

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