Tacoma, Washington, voters made clear this week by a wide margin that they wanted to raise the local minimum wage above the state’s $9.47 per hour minimum – they overwhelmingly approved increasing the minimum wage over the next two years to $12 per hour in 2018.
The $12 wage ballot measure – which reports indicate passed by a 72 to 28 percent margin — had earlier emerged as a counter-weight to a proposal that also appeared on the ballot and would have increased the minimum wage almost immediately to $15 per hour if it had been approved.
The campaign for the $15 local minimum wage, 15 Now Tacoma, was widely credited with bringing the issue of raising the minimum wage to the forefront of public attention and paving the way for the approval of the $12 minimum. “Advocates across the board agree,” Tacoma’s News Tribune reported, that the $12 minimum wage “wouldn’t have happened if not for 15 Now Tacoma.”
Local business groups were so concerned about the growing support for the $15 initiative that they dropped their opposition to increasing the minimum wage and, while campaigning to stop the $15 plan, lent their support to the $12 minimum wage alternative measure.
Under the plan approved by Tacoma voters, the local minimum wage will rise in three stages to $10.35 per hour beginning February 2016, $11.15 beginning January 2017, and $12.00 beginning January 2018. It will then be adjusted annually for consumer price increases in the same way the Washington State minimum wage is adjusted.
Tacoma is now the third city in the state to enact a higher local minimum wage. Seattle and SeaTac both enacted phased-in $15 minimum wage ordinances in the last two years, with Seattle’s first increase having taken effect earlier this year.