$12 Tacoma minimum wage campaign just dollars away from raising $100,000

The campaign advocating for a $12 minimum wage in Tacoma are just $101 away from raising almost $100,000 in just a little over a month, state records show.

Just 16 donors have contributed as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, including $1,250 from Kentucky-based Yum Brands, which franchises KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants.

The biggest donations have been local. The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and its political action committee have given $15,000 cash and almost $20,000 in in-kind contributions. The Chamber has led the opposition to a competing measure that would boost the wage floor higher and faster.

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.

A co-founder of the $12 For Tacoma campaign said $12 is a compromise between the current wage floor of $9.47 and the competing $15 ballot initiative.

“We reached out to a lot of groups to put some money together,” Kevin Hayes, a founder of the $12 for Tacoma campaign and a co-owner of a downtown marketing firm, said Tuesday. “This is a real confusing issue (for voters) with the two measures side by side.”

It was what we could spare. (The issue is) important to us, and to our clients.

Wade Stewart, co-owner of a family business in University Place, that donated $75 to the campaign advocating a $12 minimum wage in Tacoma

So far, the $12 campaign has spent about $48,000, PDC data show. The group has a website. Hayes said it has has sent three mailers to Tacoma voters so far. The Chamber performed a voter survey and the Washington Restaurant Association paid for a video, according to campaign finance reports.

The 15 Now Tacoma campaign has raised almost $8,400, with several donations coming in over the past few weeks.

The group’s lack of donations shows “what the support will be like at the polls,” Hayes said. “I think that shows people support the compromise.”

16 Number of donors to the $12 for Tacoma campaign, which has raised almost $100,000

23 number of donors to the 15 Now Tacoma campaign, which has raised almost $8,400

While the $12 For Tacoma campaign is supported by many heavy hitters, a few small-business owners have contributed as well. The smallest donation so far, just $75, came from Stewart and Son Computer Service.

“It was what we could spare,” said Wade Stewart, co-owner of the family business in University Place. The minimum wage issue is “important to us, and to our clients.”

Since 2012, Stewart’s company has provided technology support for small businesses that can’t afford an in-house information technology department. Including himself, his business employees five people full-time and one person part-time. His employees all make at least $15 an hour, so his concern isn’t about his business having to pay more when it sends employees to jobs in Tacoma.

Stewart is instead worried about his clients, 70 percent of which he estimates are in Tacoma. If those companies have a large increase in personnel expenses that happens practically overnight, he said, they’ll cut costs elsewhere.

“They’ll decide they’re going to have to get by with that old server,” he said. “That affects us.”

The Tacoma city attorney has said that should the $15 measure pass, it would go into effect Dec. 4. That’s too fast, Stewart said. The minimum wage should be $15, he said, just not implemented the way 15 Now Tacoma’s ballot measure requires.

Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546



$25,000 – Washington Restaurant Association

$15,000 – Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and its political action committee

$10,000 – Downtown-based temporary staffing company TrueBlue Inc.

$2,500 – Superior Linen Service, the Recreational Gaming Association and Northern Fish Products’ Ross Swanes

$2,000 – Lakewood-based restauranteur The Ram, Pierce County Security and Vista Real Estate LLC, whose principal Don Hansen owns three senior care facilities and was one of the co-founders of the campaign

$1,250 – Mukilteo-based Emerald City Pizza LLC; Kentucky-based Yum Brands, which franchises KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

$1,000 – Lobster Shop owner Dennis Driscoll

$750 – Harkness Furniture Store owner Dave Harkness

$500 – Hotel Murano, R.O. Stevens & Associates Inc.

$75 – Stewart and Son Computer Service

Source: Public Disclosure Commission