Tacoma Minimum Wage: 15 Now? 15… Eventually? 12 Eventually?

Last week the city council formally accepted the findings of the Tacoma Minimum Wage Task Force. This week the council is scheduled to act on those recommendations, voting on whether to put one proposal on the ballot in November as an alternative to the 15 Now proposal. 

Although the task force did not reach a united consensus on a single recommendation, there was some agreement among the group of stakeholders - the consensus reported was that an abrupt increase from the current $9.47 to $15 on January 1 of next year would be unprecedented and tough on small businesses and nonprofits, and that an increase of the minimum wage should be done incrementally to ease the transition over time.

Additionally, they did submit two proposals, one increasing the minimum wage in Tacoma to $15, the second increasing it to $12, both in incremental steps to ease the transition for smaller businesses.

  • Proposal A was endorsed by 9 Task Force members and would achieve a minimum hourly wage of $15 for everyone working in Tacoma by 2024. For businesses with 150 or more employees, the minimum hourly wage for employees would be $15 by 2020. Then, "Sometime during these five years the City would adjust the minimum wage of employees of small businesses to achieve parity by 2030 between the minimum hourly wages paid by small and large businesses.
  • Proposal B was endorsed by 6 Task Force members and would achieve a minimum hourly wage of $12 for everyone working in Tacoma by 2019.

Details about the task force and its recommendations, including meeting agendas, notes, and other documents, is available at cityoftacoma.org/minimumwage. The Task Force's Final Report (pdf), as submitted to the council, is of particular interest if you're looking for more details on the proposals and the thinking behind them. The comparison matrix above gives a year-by-year break-down of the proposals. If a third column were added representing the 15 Now proposal, it would read $15 all the way down, beginning in 2016.

Each proposal includes the following two notes as well:

  • City of Tacoma conducts an assessment of the impacts of the recent rise in the minimum wage on: a) small businesses and non-profits; b) minimum wage/low wage workers; and c) the city’s economy in the context of Pierce County and the greater Puget Sound region
  • The State of Washington estimates the CPI will rise 2.4% annually. The City will follow the state methodology to calculate CPI. Given that in the future the State may use an improved index, Task Force members recommend the City of Tacoma follow such changes and remain consistent with the State’s use of preferred practices.

After some council discussion of the recommendations, a resolution appears on this week's regular council meeting agenda moving Proposal B forward to the voters for consideration this November. The ballot item up for council approval reads as follows:


Concerns Establishing a Minimum Wage In The City Of Tacoma As an alternative, the City Council has proposed Initiative Measure No. 1B The Tacoma City Council adopted Resolution No. 39237 concerning establishing a minimum wage. If passed by the voters, Initiative 1B would require employers to pay a minimum hourly wage to employees aged sixteen (16) and over performing work in Tacoma of not less than $10.35 per hour beginning February 2016, $11.15 beginning January 2017, and $12.00 beginning January 2018, adjusted annually thereafter based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as calculated and used by the State of Washington at that time, and requiring that an impact assessment be conducted in 2018 and every two years thereafter.

Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

Yes……… [ ] No………. [ ]

Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

Measure No. 1…………… [ ] Or Measure No. 1B…………. [ ]

It appears that the council is leaning toward the $12 proposal, but that could change at tonight's meeting... Which proposal, if any, are you leaning toward?

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Why not tie a statewide (so there’s no place for businesses to uproot to) minimum wage hike to the cost of living using Seattle’s $15 wage in 2020 as baseline?  Maybe that’d be just too darn easy…

A typical calculator:

July 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0


According to the calculator, Tacoma’s cost of living is about 80% of Seattle.  $15 x 80% =  $12.  (Gasp!!)

July 15, 2015 at 7:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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altered chords

What is Tacoma’s Maximum wage?  What do the top 10% earn?  What do the top 25% earn?  How do these #s compare to Seattle?  What does the path from minimum wage to middle class wage look like?  Is it visible to min wage earners in Tacoma?

These are more difficult questions to answer.  Tacoma needs more creativity and less condemnation from the proponents of 15 now.  Figuring out how to get a measure on a ballot so that an agenda that makes you feel good but does no good for the city is a waste of your time.  We need to be creative and figure out how to truly elevate the education level, skill level and earning power of Tacoma’s workforce.  We need to figure out how to attract high paying employers to Tacoma.  It is employers who make profits that pay high wages.  Unfortunately for the 15 now proponents who would like to simply pass a law that forces business to take some action, there is no way to force an employer that pays high wages to move to Tacoma and hire employees. 


July 15, 2015 at 9:22 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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You just put High School age kids out of a job!

July 15, 2015 at 10:55 am / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 2


That won’t faze them.  These people are died in the wool Marxists.  This is the world view you are dealing with. 

“Duranty was a chain-smoking, Scotch drinking vulgar sort of man who made no apologies for his admiration of Stalin. He was held in awe by other journalists, especially young female journalists. He did not fail to use the awe to his advantage, or rather their disadvantage. As Fascism rose in Europe, and Japanese jingoism emerged in the East, Duranty wrote glowing accounts of Stalin’s Five-Year Plan. Almost single-handedly did Duranty aid and abet one of the world’s most prolific mass murderers, knowing all the while what was going on, but refraining from saying precisely what he knew to be true. He had swallowed the ends-justifies-the-means-argument hook, line and sinker. Duranty loved to repeat, when Stalin’s atrocities were brought to light, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” Those “eggs” were the heads of men, women and children, and those “few” were merely tens of millions.”

Stalin’s apologist : Walter Duranty, the New York Times man in Moscow,
by S.J. Taylor, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1990)

July 15, 2015 at 11:08 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 2


Although I reject any concession of “good intentions” on the part of these Marxists behind this 15 Now movement or and am even more skeptical of “good intentions” when it comes to Tacoma’s political class, this quote from CS Lewis pretty well summarizes my assessment of what is motivating this: 

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

July 15, 2015 at 11:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 2


I foresee a future where service businesses have few or no employees, just volunteers or “friends” who help out for free and happen to expect and accept gratuities.

July 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

3 | 0


I had lunch with a guy that owns a lawn maintenance company.  He is not waiting around, he is moving his business outside Tacoma and he is investing in new equipment that will require less labor.  He will have fewer employees and the ones he keeps will not be making any more than they are today, they already make above fifteen dollars/hour.  His costs are going to go up about 15%, but his efficiency is going to go up north of 25%.

July 16, 2015 at 8:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

2 | 2


If he has clients in Tacoma, he’ll still be paying the new wage.  They made it a point to set things up that way.

July 18, 2015 at 12:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 1


Are you an illiterate, ordo you just play one on television.  He has minimum wage and slightly above minimum wage employees now.  He is replacing them with newer more capable machines and the employees who are not productive enough to be making above the new minimum wage will be let go.  He is not looking to expand in Tacoma or even for new clients and wants to shift most of his clientele base out of Tacoma but he has a pretty large business and lots of customers and that is going to take a few years to accomplish. 

There are new machines, but they are expensive, that are terrifically efficient in manpower.  You are not going to see three guys show up on a lawn and garden maintenance job in Tacoma.  You will see one. 

July 19, 2015 at 1:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

1 | 3


$20 per hour minimum wage now!

July 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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May 30, 2018 at 4:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

0 | 0

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