According to the Olympia city strategic communications office spokesperson, Kellie Braseth, “the city of Olympia council is now in a three part process of evaluating whether or not to pass a city ordnance to increase the minimum wage. Part one, a study session, was conducted Tuesday, October 27. City Councilman Jim Cooper proposed a bill that would increase the current minimum $9.47 set by the state of Washington over the course of a few years to $15. Small business with less than 25 employees would be required to raise wages over four years. Larger business with over 25 employees and franchises with over 500 employees nationally would need to increase wages over a two years period.”
Reforming Employer responsibilities and worker rights into Olympia city municipal code will make it law. More information on the Jim Cooper’s proposed draft ordnance can be found at workingwa.org.
Part two is to schedule council Jim Cooper’s Ordnance into the City legislative session. A third hearing would be a regional Thurston county meeting where the other cities in the county will discuss the impact of increased wages. No time table defines the sense of urgency of when the Olympia City Council will come to a decision.
Concerns of how an increase in wages will affect Mom and Pop operations at the study session along with nonprofits have been raised. The executive office received a request to conduct an economic impact statement a few weeks after the study session on how increased wages will affect the Olympia community economically. It is not certain if Olympia city is willing to pay a private party to have a study done or if Olympia City will conduct an economic impact statement itself, if at all. Many question of how a wage increase will affect everything muddle the progress to a higher minimum wage. An increase will not be seen before Christmas 2015 and Jim Cooper’s proposal will most likely get hacked into tiny bits by a city-owned shredder to the dismay of Olympia city office employees who make less than $15 dollars hourly.
The worker’s position is that wages are still too low and the bureaucrats bureaucrating over bureaucrat stuff is not improving the quality of life for those who live in Olympia and make less than $15 an hour. National protests were concluded on November 10 with city streets being shut down in every major city in protest of slave wages, including Olympia. The Wobblies have returned and plan to increase operations to gain support around the minimum wage increase along with other worker rights. More protests are scheduled this holiday season. Sounds of sharpies can be heard scribbling pro-wage reform mottos in the lobbies and hallways of the local colleges with people willing to block traffic and risking injury to address grievances to the government as workers can no longer afford not to ask for increased wages.
Many are afraid how a raise in the minimum wage will affect them. Many have concerns of what their new social position might be. What the value of the new dollar will buy. An Olympia union bus driver said “it took me 40 years to earn a wage of $25 an hour, now the minimum will be pushed to just ten dollars under me.” A Cecil Jones a nurse said “What will my social class be, I use to make $19.50 an hour?” Steve, a Union Mission Gospel employee, is concerned that jobs will be lost because there will no longer be enough jobs to go around. Fear, and hope for economic stability as well as prosperity, is a common thread. People long unemployed and living on the street in poverty will only be affected by price increases.
John Chacon, a resident of Olympia, has two lovely children.