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State Minimum Wage Goes Up

Ruby de Luna
12/31/2002

The state’s lowest paid workers get a pay boost tomorrow (WED) when the minimum wage goes up. The new pay rate for hourly workers will be seven dollars and one cent, the second highest wage in the country. KUOW’s Ruby de Luna reports.

WORKERS PRIMARILY IN THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES WILL SEE AN 11 CENT RAISE IN THEIR NEXT PAYCHECKS. THE AUTOMATIC RAISE, TIED TO THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX, WAS APPROVED BY VOTERS IN 1998. CRITICS LIKE MARK JOHNSON OF THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, SAY THIS IS A BAD TIME TO BE GIVING PAY RAISES… We’re in an economic downturn right now and we feel that increasing the minimum wage is definitely going to hurt the situation and exacerbate the drive for any small business owners to want to hire more employees and it’s going to make it more difficult for them to keep the existing employees that they have. Bah Humbug and don’t be so Scrooge-like. STEVE WILLIAMSON IS WITH THE KING COUNTY LABOR COUNCIL. HE SAYS 11 CENTS IS HARDLY A RAISE OR BONUS. BUT IT’S A WAY TO HELP LOW-WAGE WORKERS KEEP UP WITH THE COST OF LIVING… This is keeping them from having to rely on other kinds of government assistance because they’re at the very bottom and, you go and try to raise a family or raise yourself, have a car, have a roof over your head for $7.01 an hour. I’d like to see the people who are complaining about that give that a shot. It ain’t easy. THE AUTOMATIC WAGE INCREASE MAY NOT LAST LONG. OPPONENTS PLAN TO GO TO OLYMPIA IN THE COMING LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THEY WANT LAWMAKERS TO EVALUATE THE STATE’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE BEFORE ALLOWING WAGES TO GO UP. I’M RUBY DE LUNA, KUOW NEWS.
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