Gradually Raising the Minimum Wage in Tacoma the Clear Choice of Voters

Tacoma’s voters made their voices heard on minimum wage — and they did so in fairly overwhelming fashion.

Not so much on whether the wage floor in the city should be raised, though the outcome was clear there: 59 percent of voters agreed that Tacoma’s minimum wage should be raised to either $12 or $15.

But as for which option was best for the City of Destiny, that’s where a sharp majority rumbled. Seventy-one percent of voters chose Initiative Measure No. 1B, the $12 option championed by activist group $12 for Tacoma and supported by organizations like the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.

“I think it’s a pretty big victory,” said Kevin Hayes, co-founder of $12 for Tacoma and principal at Tacoma Marketing Group. “We all want living wages for our people, and this is a good step in that direction. It doesn’t go out there and just penalize immediately, which the 15 Now measure might have done.”

The $15 minimum, had it gone into effect, would have raised the minimum for a heavy majority of businesses immediately. The $12 solution includes a two-year phase-in period; with the election in the rearview, the city will begin moving toward away from the state-mandated $9.47 with an increase to $10.35 in February.

“Seventy percent, I think that’s a pretty strong indicator of what the people wanted,” said Tom Pierson, CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. “Between the two, they understand that $12 phased in is better for Tacoma. It’s better for the economy, good for employees, good for businesses, and it works.”

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