Campaign to raise Tacoma minimum wage to $15 ramps up

The Tacoma City Council received 1,300 signatures supporting a $15 minimum wage. It follows Seattle's passing its own legislation, but would it work in Tacoma? Janet Kim reports.

TACOMA, Wash. -- First, SeaTac passed legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, then Seattle followed suit. Now activists are pushing for the same thing in Tacoma.

Those with the 15 NOW Tacoma campaign believe it will work and say the estimated 1,300 signatures they gathered proves there is support for it. The petition has now been filed with the city clerk's office and was an item that was noted by the Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.

"When you raise minimum wage and put more money in working people's pockets, then they're going to be out spending the money, and that's going to help the economy," said Sarah Morken, a 15 NOW Tacoma organizer.

Since Seattle passed its legislation, supporters in Tacoma say it should be done there too. Not only do they believe it will ultimately help the economy, but will also increase worker productivity while decreasing turnover.

However, 15 NOW opponents say not so fast. They note Tacoma and Seattle have different economies and Tacoma's cost of living is more than 20 percent lower. They also fear a dramatic wage increase will come with unintended consequences.

"There's a recognition that when you start to move employees up in the wage scale and force them up in the wage scale then other benefits get pulled away," said David Schroedel with Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Tacoma City Council hasn't taken a stance on the issue yet, but 15 NOW Tacoma leaders say they are ultimately pushing for a city ordinance or they'll work to put it on a ballot next year.


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