Minimum wage goes up

Norma Licea

SUNNYSIDE — Minimum wage workers will have addition money in their paychecks, thanks to a voter-approved initiative that raised the minimum wage.

As of Jan. 1, workers 16 and older have been getting paid $12 per hour, 50 cents more than they were earning at state minimum wage last year.

While the raise is seen as a good thing, some fear it will hurt small businesses.

Sonia Martinez of Sunnyside, who works two jobs, said she was concerned that the small business owners would be hurt by the wage increases.

“Some of them are already struggling, so I worry it will cause some layoffs for some,” she said.

The Washington State Labor and Industries enforces the state wage and hour laws, which include the minimum wage. The state minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture.

Around the Yakima Valley, most agriculture- related job employees are making about $13 per hour said Norma Licea, who works payroll at Valley Manufactured Housing.

“Our employees who start at minimum wage will also be getting the raises,” Licea said.

In fact, she noted, those who are working hard to improve their skills will see additional increments in their hourly wage, based on performance.

“They get regular raises as they improve, she said.

Employers can pay workers under 16-years-old 85 percent of the minimum wage. For 2019, that amounts to $10.20 per hour.

Under state law, tips do not count toward a worker’s minimum wage.

In other good news the passage of Initiative 1433, set a schedule for Washington wage over a four-year period. As a result, in 2020, the state minimum wage will climb to $13.50.

The cities of Sea-Tac, Seattle and Tacoma have their own minimum wage rates, which are already closer to $14 or $15 per hour.

“I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, Nev., where the minimum wage is about $8. We’re lucky to live in Washington state,” Licea said.

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