Renton Reporter to host minimum wage forum

Free event is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Carco Theatre.

The Renton Reporter will host a public forum Jan. 31 featuring supporters and opponents of the proposed minimum wage increase that will go before voters in next month’s special election.

The free event runs 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the Carco Theatre, 1717 Maple Valley Hwy, Renton. The forum will also be live-streamed on the Renton Reporter’s Facebook page.

The moderated forum will feature panelists from the “pro” and “con” sides of the issue. The “pro” side will include representatives and advocates of the Raise the Wage Renton campaign including Guillermo Zazueta, chair of Raise the Wage Renton, Michael Westgaard SEIU 925 shop steward, and Renton City Council member Carmen Rivera – while the “con” side will include representatives and advocates from the local business community, including Renton Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Dobson, Renton City Council member James Alberson, and local business owner Ramandeep Mann.

Please email with any questions you’d like the candidates to answer.

About the ballot measure

If approved in the Feb. 13 special election, Renton would have one of the highest minimum wages in the nation.

The current minimum wage in Renton is $16.28 per hour as of Jan. 1, and is monitored and mandated at the state level. If passed, Initiative Measure 23-02 would compel businesses in Renton that employ at least 15 employees, or have annual gross revenue of over $2 million to pay employees a minimum of $20.29 per hour for large employers and $18.29 for smaller covered employers, according to the city.

The lower wage would be phased to equal that of large employers in two years, and the wage would be adjusted for inflation annually, according to the city’s webpage on the initiative.

Tips and service charges paid to employees in the service industry are in addition to, and may not count toward, the employee’s hourly minimum wage.

The initiative also has provisions that create regulations about when hours must be offered to part-time employees before making new hires or subcontracting work; creates rules against retaliation; and creates requirements that the city must create and enforce rules, including a compliance certification for all businesses.

If it passes in the Feb. 13 special election, the policy would take effect on July 1, 2024.