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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 44
I-1433 benefits the LGBT community
Section One
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I-1433 benefits the LGBT community

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

'Hello,' Ariana Davis coughed into the phone.

A grocery worker and member of UFCW Local 21, Davis is also the citizen-sponsor of Initiative 1433, a measure that would raise the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020 and also offer workers paid sick and safe days.

She agreed to talk with SGN on her lunch break about the initiative she's been working hard to pass.

'Ironically,' Davis continued, 'I'm sick today, but I still have to be at work.'

Because she works at the Renton Highlands Safeway, she and her fellow workers are not covered by Seattle's paid sick days ordinance, or by our minimum wage law.

Davis herself makes a decent wage, $20 an hour, but it took her a long time - 10 years - to get there. The starting pay for a grocery worker represented by UFCW, she explains, is 10 cents above minimum wage. Nonunion workers don't even get the extra 10 cents.

'That's why it's extremely important to pass I-1433,' she says. 'It took me a long time to make a living wage. I know what it's like. I care about the people who are just starting out.'

Grocery workers represented by the union are also entitled to sick days, 'but you have to be sick for three consecutive workdays before it kicks in,' Davis says. 'By then most people are over it.'

An out Lesbian in an industry with large numbers of LGBT workers, Davis believes passing I-1443 is crucial for her community.

'It's really a human rights issue,' she explains. 'Especially for Trans people. Trans people are four times more likely to live in poverty - some with as little as $10,000 a year income.

'And couples raising kids. They're three times more likely to live in poverty as straight couples with kids. In short, it's good for everyday people who work full-time and want to make a living wage.'

Polling shows I-1433 very likely to pass, with 58% support statewide and a whopping 68% in King County. Davis says the polling squares with her experience collecting signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

'Personally, I got over 1,000 signatures on my own,' she told SGN. 'Most people were really supportive.'

Support has been coming from some unexpected quarters too. The GSBA, an LGBT-friendly business group, has also endorsed I-1433.

'I-1433 is a chance to address stagnant wages that have not kept up with the rising cost of living in Washington state,' the group says on its website.

'To be competitive in this economy, we need to be able to attract and retain talent. A higher minimum wage makes Washington more competitive as Oregon and California also work to implement similar wages.'

The Raise Up Washington coalition, which got I-1433 on the ballot and is working to get it passed, includes unions, LGBT groups, human rights advocates, and progressive businesses.

If and when I-1433 passes, it will raise the minimum wage for more than 730,000 workers, putting $600 more in the pockets of minimum-wage workers every month. More than one million workers will also get paid sick and safe days for the first time.

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