Who’s trying to buy your vote in Feb. election? | Guest opinion

Guest op-ed

By Julianna Dauble, Maria Abando, Guillermo Zazueta

Raise the Wage Renton

On Dec. 11, 2023, the “No on 23-02” Political Action Committee (PAC) officially registered with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Funders will include the Washington Hospitality Association and the Washington Retail Association.

The Washington Hospitality Association is a hospitality trade group representing business owners in fast-food and hospitality industries like McDonald’s, Hyatt Regency and other large corporations.

These lobbyists operate by deploying Local Government Affairs Managers from Olympia to local jurisdictions like Renton and influence policy that protects the profits of these corporations.

The Washington Retail Association is a retail trade group representing national retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, Westfield Southcenter Mall and Home Depot, among others. This group is dedicated to “advancing the unique interests of retailers on legislative and regulatory issues” and “responding to the shared needs of retailers to improve their bottom line,” according to their website. This article states that “WR is joining with other organizations in opposing the minimum wage ballot measure and intends to actively participate in the ‘No’ campaign.”

What they won’t tell you is that this ballot measure supports small businesses as they are totally exempt and will see revenues increase.

“No on 23-02” will be bankrolled by profitable, exploitative corporations and will spread misinformation through local ads and mass mailers. Residents deserve to know the truth about this corporate-funded effort.

At a December Renton City Council meeting, the Washington Hospitality Association recommended the council introduce a council ballot measure repealing this worker-led initiative once it passes.

This ballot measure won’t magically create conditions for workers to stay housed or provide access to health care. It won’t create more government bureaucracy to enforce the higher wage. But it will give workers a better chance to survive in this economy. Carve-outs for tips are complex and need to be solved. So often, tips don’t go to workers who earn them. This can’t be an excuse to oppose a higher wage. This ballot measure was written to maintain compliance with WA Labor & Industries, ensuring fair wage compensation.

Here’s the bottom line: workers struggle to live month-to-month. Passing this measure is a step toward basic fairness for our minimum wage workers and our community.

State legislators and city council members in support are clear on one thing: workers deserve the right to live in Renton. Those against higher wages also make clear: keep the working poor vulnerable and forget that essential workers kept our economy running during the pandemic and are the most affected by inflation.

This ballot measure to bring the wage to $20/hour for large employers will allow Renton to keep up with neighboring cities in King County. Small-business owners, elected officials, and many local labor unions strongly support this ballot measure.

Renton residents have the most at stake in deciding to raise the minimum wage. Don’t let corporate interests dictate the future of our Renton economy.

This guest opinion column was submitted on behalf of Raise the Wage Renton. Send comments and responses to editor@rentonreporter.com.