Advocates for a higher statewide minimum wage rallied at the Capitol on Thursday following a hearing in the House Labor & Workforce Development committee on the issue.
Lawmakers heard from supporters who say the state’s minimum wage of $9.32 an hour isn’t keeping up with inflation, as well as detractors who warn it will drive business out of the state.
David Burroughs, vice chairman of Cascade Design, told legislators that Seattle’s $15 dollar-an-hour wage campaign took him by surprise. He estimates it will cost his business $2 million dollars per year.
The company, which makes outdoor gear and equipment, will have three to five years to phase in the higher wage under Seattle’s new law. But Burroughs says he has been “forced to look at alternatives,” including possibly moving some work outside of Washington.
“Our lowest-skilled positions won’t be viable in Seattle,” he said.
Ben Henry of the Alliance for a Just Society was among supporters of a higher wage who told legislators the wage should be increased to keep up with the cost of living. He said people are being forced to make trade-offs to make ends meet, such as foregoing health insurance.
“Our current minimum wage is indexed to inflation, but we see evidence that it isn’t enough,” he said.
TVW taped the hearing. Watch it here.