Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Business Leaders Call For Cooperative Process For A Better Minimum Wage Solution

Tacoma business leaders are calling on Tacoma’s Mayor Marilyn Strickland to convene a citizen process to develop a compromise on the minimum wage issue. Such a process will result in an increase that respects the relative strength of the Tacoma economy.

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson announced the Chamber recently commissioned a public opinion survey regarding the proposed minimum wage increase in Tacoma. He emphasized the results show it is not just the business community that is concerned about the size of the increase.

“Citizens want to see an increase in the minimum wage, but many expressed concern that a move to $15 was just too extreme #2xtreme253 and could harm our local economy,” he said. “That’s why we think it is best for everyone to develop a compromise the whole city can support.”

Pierson said if the current proposal passes and immediately increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour on January 1, 2016, it would give Tacoma the highest minimum wage in the state and the entire country. He pointed out that Seattle is increasing the minimum wage in steps over a period of four to seven years, depending on the size of the business. Currently, their minimum wage is $11 an hour.

“Many of my members could support an increase in the minimum wage, but we don’t think our economy is strong enough for an increase that is so much higher than what Seattle has today. We would like to see all the sides come together and develop a package that reflects what is best for Tacoma,” he said.

Pierson said their survey, conducted by DHM Research, shows voters in Tacoma strongly support a minimum wage increase, but they find the size of the proposed increase to $15 too extreme. He said it was clear there would be much more support for a smaller increase phased in over time.

“When polling was done in Seattle regarding the proposed move to $15 an hour, there was overwhelming support in excess of 65 percent. In Tacoma the support was below 50 percent, suggesting if there is not a compromise, there is a real chance no increase will pass. We can take the uncertainty away by building a compromise proposal that has the support of a vast majority of Tacoma residents,” he said.

Pierson added that Mayor Strickland is absolutely the right person to convene a group to forge a fair compromise.“The Mayor has universal respect and there is no question she strongly supports the working men and women who live and work in Tacoma,” he said.

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