$12 Minimum Wage Passed in Tacoma, What it Means for UWT

Initiative 1A, $15 Now—which would implement a $15 minimum wage across the city—was rejected by Ta­coma voters on the Nov. 3rd ballot; however, counter-initiative $12 Later (1B) was voted in and will be put into action beginning February 2016. De­spite the results of the vote, many ques­tions remain regarding the future for employment on campus.

UW Tacoma raised its student em­ployee minimum wage to $11 this past May. The goal of the university was to get its students wages up to $15 dollars in concordance with Seattle’s fight for $15 Movement. There are currently approximately 300 student employees on campus, roughly 10% of the student population.

The 1A ($15 Now) initiative would have immediately imposed a $15 per hour minimum wage to all local Ta­coma businesses with annual gross revenues of $300,000 or more.

$12 Later, which, according to Mayor Strickland was thought to be the “smarter policy for college students,” will begin with the minimum wage be­ing raised to $10.35 this coming Febru­ary. That amount will go up to $11.15 in January 2017, and the final increase will arrive in January 2018, as mini­mum wage reaches the $12 mark.

As a state run institution UWT is exempt from Tacoma’s minimum wage laws. This initiative will continue to make things interesting for the UWT campus. As of now, student employees are earning $11 dollars an hour. The original plan established by the Service and Activities Fee Committee (SAFC) was to raise student wages from $11 to $13 this coming January, and then to $15 in January 2017. This plan would have increased the student fee two dol­lars from $159 to $161 to handle the extra labor costs.

Some students have expressed frus­tration over the administration’s inde­cision – from $15, to $12, to currently having nothing as they have abandoned their original plan set by SAFC, leaving many student employees at a standstill.

According to ASUWT’s Director of Finance Bronwyn Clarke, “ASUWT’s Minimum Wage Task Force has been meeting on a weekly basis and is in the final stages of finishing up a survey to assess students’ views on the policy UW Tacoma should adopt going forward.“

ASUWT’s Minimum Wage Task Force leaders are currently in the pro­cess of holding campus surveys and town hall meetings to see how students feel about the minimum wage increase. Clarke relays that student involvement in this matter is of great importance.

The future for student employees at UW Tacoma is still largely unknown; The News Tribune reports that some students do not support the $15 dollar movement, as there is a fear of the strong possibility of employment and hourly cuts on campus. UWT has not released any information regarding how many jobs or hours would/will be cut.

The UWT task force is scheduled to make their stand on the UWT min­imum wage by the end of fall quarter (last day of instruction is Dec. 11th).

To be involved in the ASUWT Minimum Wage Task Force contact Bronwyn Clarke at asuwtFIN@uw.edu