Washington’s low-wage workers can expect to earn at least $13.50 an hour by 2020 under a ballot measure that won easily.

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Washington’s low-wage workers can expect to earn at least $13.50 an hour by 2020 under a ballot measure that won Tuesday night.

Initiative 1433, which would also require paid sick leave for employees, was leading with nearly 60 percent of the vote in statewide returns, as of early Wednesday

In King County the measure was leading overwhelmingly, by 72 percent to 28 percent.


Minimum wageYes:   60 percentNo:   40 percent

Carlo Caldirola-Davis, campaign manager with Raise Up Washington, the group behind I-1433, declared victory, saying in a statement: “When voters filled in their ballots, they were clear — in Washington state, we want an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top. Tonight, hundreds of thousands of Washington workers and families are getting a raise, and more than one million workers will finally be able to earn paid sick and safe leave.”

The No on I-1433 coalition issued a statement saying: “We believe there were better solutions for Washington than Initiative 1433. Looking ahead, we will work with stakeholders to ensure that this law supports first-time employment, sets realistic paid leave requirements for industries such as construction, and helps rural communities offset any potential job loss.”

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Under the measure, workers would receive the first pay jump, from the current $9.47 to $11 an hour, starting Jan. 1. (Under current law, the state minimum wage is set to rise on Jan. 1 to $9.53 an hour.)

The initiative is backed by labor unions and worker advocates who say the state’s current minimum wage isn’t enough to live on, and a boost would mean workers have more to spend. They also argue that many workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, posing a public-health problem.

Several business groups oppose the initiative, saying that while Seattle’s booming economy can support a high minimum wage, the rest of the state isn’t faring so well. Boosting the minimum wage in those areas could lead to higher prices and cuts in jobs and work hours, they say.

Employers in cities that have higher minimum wages or more generous sick-leave policies, including Seattle and SeaTac, would abide by the local laws.

The measure would require employers to pay employees age 18 or older at least $11 an hour starting next year, $11.50 in 2018, $12 in 2019 and $13.50 in 2020, with subsequent annual adjustments for inflation.

Paid sick leave would be earned at the rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked, starting in 2018.

Raise Up Washington had raised about $4.4 million, mostly from labor unions, Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and a Palo Alto, Calif.-based group called The Fairness Project.

No on I-1433 had raised about $85,000, mostly from the Washington Restaurant Association, Washington Food Industry Association, Washington Retail Association and Washington Farm Bureau.