$12 for Tacoma raises big bucks from business advocates, state records show

In less than a month, the campaign in favor of a $12 minimum wage in Tacoma has raised almost four times as much money as the group advocating for $15.

$12 for Tacoma, announced last month by two local business owners, has raised $19,000 since Sept. 18 – $12,000 of that in the past 11 days, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. By comparison, the 15 Now Tacoma campaign received its first donation in December and so far has raised $3,621.

The campaigns have different donor profiles, state records show. More than two dozen individuals and small groups have donated to 15 Now Tacoma, most donating $100 or so. $12 for Tacoma has four donors: the Washington Restaurant Association, the largest contributor at $10,000; the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber; restauranteur The Ram; and private company Pierce County Security.

Tacomans face two questions on the Nov. 3 ballot about the city’s minimum wage. If they vote to raise it, they also must decide by how much: $15, which goes into effect immediately for almost all businesses, or $12 phased in over two years.

Advocates for $15 say that rate would provide a living wage for people who work in Tacoma and would help to alleviate poverty. Those in favor of $12 say that amount is more suited to Tacoma’s economy, which is quieter than other cities that have raised their wage floor to $15.

The restaurant association’s support for the $12 wage reflects “the economics of Tacoma,” CEO Anthony Anton said Tuesday. The association represents 317 hospitality businesses in Tacoma and 6,078 statewide.

The restaurant industry, which employs a lot of minimum-wage workers, has played a big role in similar debates elsewhere.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which contributed $5,000 to $12 for Tacoma, has said that an overnight increase to $15 an hour would put the minimum wage in Tacoma higher than the one in Seattle. That’s because Seattle is phasing in its $15 wage floor over several years and by size of business. The earliest any business will have to pay $15 in Seattle is Jan. 1, 2017.

Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546