Gov. Jay Inslee gathered signatures in Westlake Park for a labor-backed initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $13.50 an hour and require businesses to provide paid sick leave.
Gov. Jay Inslee lent a personal hand Thursday to the campaign for a labor-backed initiative that would raise the state minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave for workers.
In a made-for-cameras display, the Democratic governor strolled through Seattle’s Westlake Park at lunchtime to gather signatures for Initiative 1433, aimed at the November ballot.
The initiative would phase in an increase to the state’s $9.47 minimum wage, bringing it to $13.50 by 2020. It also would require employers to provide paid sick leave to workers, with leave accruing at one hour for every 40 hours worked.
Inslee called the measure a “long-overdue” step toward a living wage for workers. “Our minimum wage has not kept pace with rent, has not kept pace with our economy,” he said.
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Asked about potential concerns by some small-business owners, Inslee argued I-1433 would be good for them too.
“For small businesses to thrive, they have to have consumers. They have to have customers,” he said. “This will help if they have more customers that have a dollar to buy something.”
After about a half-hour of chatting up people waiting in line at a Cajun food truck and at nearby tables, Inslee had garnered seven or so signatures for the initiative. He was outpaced by his wife, Trudi Inslee, who’d persuaded at least nine people to sign.
Ariana Davis, a Safeway employee and I-1433’s citizen sponsor, said she was grateful for Inslee’s backing. “He committed to me he was going to come help,” she said. “He supports this 1,000 percent.”
I-1433 backers have raised more than $1 million, including big donations from Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and several unions, according to reports to the state Public Disclosure Commission. The campaign has spent more than $600,000, including $145,000 for paid signature gathering.
While business groups have expressed concern about the initiative, opponents have not reported raising any money to oppose it.
To qualify for the November ballot, initiative supporters must submit 246,372 valid signatures of registered voters to the Secretary of State’s office by early July.
They’ve already gathered about 250,000 signatures, toward a goal of 350,000, said I-1433 spokesman Jack Sorensen.