Proposed City of Olympia Minimum Wage Ordinance: Part 1—$15 Minimum Wage

Oct 28, 2015

Under the proposed “City of Olympia Minimum Wage Ordinance,” every worker in Olympia who clocks a minimum of two hours during a two-week period would earn a wage of at least $15 per hour. 

The ordinance splits employers into two groups with separate phase-in schedules.

Schedule 1 employers (more than 25 employees) would have two years to phase in the higher wage—$13 in 2016 and $15 in 2017. 

The new wage would be phased in over four years for Schedule 2 businesses (25 or fewer employees)—$12 in 2016, $13 in 2017, $14 in 2018 and $15 in 2019. 

The year after each phase-in schedule reaches the full $15 wage, the minimum wage would begin increasing annually according to inflation.

Like Seattle’s minimum wage law, employers located outside of Olympia would be required to pay the $15 wage to workers who work occasionally in the city.  A worker who clocks more than two hours of work in Olympia within a two-week period is considered a “Covered Worker.”

Also like Seattle’s law, franchise owners whose national brand employs more than 500 workers in the U.S. would be considered large businesses, and as such be subject to the shorter phase-in of the new $15 wage.  So a franchise business owner who employs 10 workers would be treated the same as a business employing 500 people; that franchise owner with 10 employees would be required to pay their workers $15 per hour two years before their non-franchised competitor of the same size.  

poll commissioned by labor unions earlier this year shows 69% of Olympa voters support a $15 minimum wage in the city.  But that poll was conducted in a vacuum--respondents had not yet heard from the small businesses in the real world that would struggle under such high labor costs.  They had not yet heard of the difficult decisions Mom and Pop business owners would be forced to make, and the devastating impact those decisions would have on the workers they employ.  These small business owners and their employees are the backbone of the city's economy, and are important and active members of the community. Considering 80% of businesses in Olympia employ fewer than 10 workers, it is a strong message.

This video featuring a small Olympia business owner and her employee discusing the devastating impact a $15 wage mandate would have on both of them tells the story.

You can read about other provisions of the ordinance in Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5 of this series. Part 2 covers the “Promoting Full Time Employment” provision, Part 3 explains the “Adequate Rest Between Shifts,” “Advanced Notice of Work Schedules” and “Advance Notice of Change in Work Schedules” provisions, Part 4 analyzes the “Paid Sick Leave” provision of the ordinance, and Part 5 explores the  “Enforcement” provisions of the new laws.