A coalition of business groups is going to court to try to stop a scheduled increase in Washington’s minimum wage.
What is now the highest state minimum wage in the nation is supposed to go up by 12 cents on New Year’s Day, bringing it to $8.67 per hour.
The Washington Farm Bureau, Restaurant Association, retailers and grocers are joining forces against the recently announced hike in the minimum wage.
Voters in Washington, as in Oregon, decided years ago to link the minimum wage to inflation. But the business lawsuit argues it’s too soon to raise the wage floor.
Washington Retail Association director Jan Teague says that’s because the cost of living fell during the recession. It’s rising again now, but has not yet caught back up to its previous high.
Jan Teague: “The voters voted on it when we had a good climate. I don’t think they ever expected that the recession would be as deep as it was and set us back as far as it did.”
A spokeswoman for Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries says the state just received the lawsuit and hasn’t yet formulated a response.
The state agency will hire outside counsel because Washington’s attorney general is on record as supporting the business community’s position.
Oregon’s minimum wage is also slated to rise in January. No one has challenged the increase of a dime from $8.40 an hour, to $8.50.
Idaho adopts the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour.