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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Unions, Advocates File Minimum Wage, Sick Leave Initiative

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Supporters of raising Washington's minimum wage to $13.50 per hour by 2020 and requiring employers to provide paid sick leave filed the paperwork to start gathering signatures for a 2016 initiative.

Washington voters could decide in November on a combined minimum wage and sick leave measure . A union-backed campaign calling itself “Raise Up Washington” filed an initiative Monday to raise the state’s base wage to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

The measure would also require employers to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Teresa Mosqueda with the Washington State Labor Council is one of the campaign’s organizers. She said the initiative effort follows failed attempts to pass similar policies through the state legislature.

“We want a wage that lifts every worker. We want sick and safe leave for every worker,” Mosqueda said. “Did you know that there are one million people in Washington state right now who don’t have a single day of sick and safe leave? This is the route that we think we can go, we think it will win at the ballot and we think it’s good for all Washington workers.”

The campaign will have until July to gather roughly 250,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The Washington Restaurant Association responded with a statement that says it hopes this initiative spurs the legislature to find an “equitable solution for everyone.”

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."