November 8, 2013
Washington, DC—The nation’s pioneering consumer / worker advocacy group today is heralding the election results of minimum wage-related ballot initiatives in states across the country as a positive sign for the living wage movement that is gaining momentum nationwide. The National Consumers League (NCL), the 114-year-old consumer and worker advocacy group founded during the Progressive Era, is today celebrating victories in New Jersey and the Seattle metro area—some confirmed by election results, others too close to call—that will increase the pay of minimum wage workers.
In New Jersey, a state constitutional amendment that passed yesterday, will now tie automatic minimum wage increases to inflation rates and raises the state minimum wage from the federally mandated $7.25 to $8.25, putting it on par with more progressive areas including the District of Columbia.
In the Seattle area, where votes will continue to be counted until mail-in ballots are received, a SeaTac ballot measure would raise the minimum wage of hospitality and transportation workers in and around the Seattle-Tacoma airport to $15 an hour. The current minimum wage in Washington is $9.19 – the state rate highest in the nation – with a raise scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2014 to $9.32. The results of SeaTac’s ballot measure are still too close to call, but passage would ensure benefits such as paid sick days and tip protection from wage theft. It would also require employers to offer additional hours to part-time workers before hiring new staff and to retain existing employees for at least a 3-month period following a change in ownership.
"These results show that there is strong popular support for raising the wages and living standards of the nation's lowest paid workers,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “All the scare tactics of big business—like threats that businesses will not survive the wage hike or that consumer prices will sharply escalate—didn't win the day. We’re proud of the voters and their support for raising the standard of living for those at the bottom of the economic ladder."
NCL has a long history of supporting the interests of workers and consumers since its founding in 1899, and NCL’s first General Secretary, Florence Kelley, wrote the first state minimum wage laws in the United States. This fall, it supported a movement in the District of Columbia, where it is headquartered, to implement the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) or Livable Wage Act, to require DC retailers whose parent companies do more than $1 billion in sales annually to pay their employees the DC living wage and benefits of $12.50 an hour. The LRAA was passed by City Council but ultimately vetoed by Mayor Vincent Gray.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.