$15 minimum wage issue may head to Tacoma ballot

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TACOMA — Activist group 15 Now Tacoma submitted signatures to the Tacoma city clerk Monday in hopes of qualifying a $15 minimum wage issue for the November ballot.

The group turned in 253 pages late Monday, with a total of 4,747 signatures. The issue needs signatures from at least 3,160 registered Tacoma voters to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot.

The signatures will be sent to the Pierce County Auditor’s Office and compared against voter registration records. Auditor Julie Anderson said the signature pages also will be examined for duplicates. She expects to finish the verification process by May 27.

“We are definitely going to be on the ballot,” 15 Now volunteer Alan “Oldstudent” Stancliff said late Monday. “That’s not going to be a problem.”

The $15 minimum wage issue could share the ballot with a competing measure blessed by the Tacoma City Council. Mayor Marilyn Strickland and the City Council created a task force to examine how to change the city’s minimum wage after the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber asked her to create a group to study alternatives.

According to the proposed ballot measure, businesses making gross revenues of $300,000 per year or more would have to pay a $15 minimum wage with no phase-in period or exceptions based on a business’s number of employees.

Critics have said Tacoma’s economy won’t support a wage that rises that high so quickly.

Washington’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation at $9.47 per hour, although a few cities around the nation have adopted higher minimum wages. Los Angeles became the latest Tuesday when the City Council voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.