Initiative 1433 Passes: Minimum wage set to Increase

The Washington Minimum Wage Increase, also known as Initiative 1433, was passed into law by voters in Nov 8. The initiative statute entails incrementally raising the state’s minimum wage from $9.47 in 2016 to $11.00 in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12.00 in 2019, and $13.50 in 2020. The initiative also requires employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees. This change affects all minimum wage workers and associated businesses in Washington state.
At South Puget Sound Community College, an estimated 115 student employees currently work for minimum wage. One of these employed students, Isaac Delys, looks forward to the pay raise. “I’m very happy with it, I think minimum wage is far too low. It’s nice to know it’s going to go up to a more fair wage. I’m more excited to come to work.” Isaac works as a student tutor in the Writing center. He will graduate at the end of spring quarter with his Associates of Arts degree. He plans to transfer to Evergreen State College as an English major where he will pursue a career as an English teacher.
The college, like many Washington State businesses, operates with a budget. The current budget was calculated at the beginning of the fiscal year July 1. 2016. The first pay increase from Initiative 1433 will take effect January,2017; the middle of the school and fiscal year. “It could be challenging because of the timing but I don’t see any issues with it,” says Mychael Heuer, Director of Career Services. One of the highest expenses in running a college is the cost of labor. 60 percent of the budget expenses for the college is in the category of salaries and wages. As a result of the minimum wage increase, budget adjustments will have to be made.
“Businesses may respond to higher costs by laying off workers, reducing hours, creating fewer jobs, automating, increasing prices, or moving,” reported the Washington Research Council in August. Some of these variables could take place at South Puget Sound Community College. Kandi Bauman, Director of Student Life, doesn’t foresee many job losses. “We’re currently adjusting this year’s budget. We don’t see any major issues arising.”
She is excited for the change on wage and hopes students are as well. “We’re also working on next year’s budget to incorporate the additional wage increase. I hope students are happy about the change. With the wage increase, we hope to see more job applicants in the future for on-campus employment that offers closer to living wages.”