Dear Spokane Voters and Small Businesses,
Big business opponents of City of Spokane Proposition 1 have made small, local business their poster child, claiming that such businesses will go bankrupt or leave town if voters say YES to Proposition 1 – Worker Bill of Rights.
The truth is, saying YES to Proposition 1 – Worker Bill of Rights would boost pay equity and workplace fairness for a lot of people here in Spokane by:
- Securing a family wage for people working for large employers
- Protecting equal pay for equal work
- Instituting a process of fairness – for employers and employees – related to work performance and termination
- Placing people’s rights over corporate claimed “rights”
Not only is Proposition 1 needed, it is a good thing, both for people and the local economy, including small, local businesses. In fact the research shows that boosting wages stimulates the local economy, reduces employee turnover, and decreases the need for public assistance, to name just a few of the benefits to expect with the passage of Proposition 1.
But in case you haven’t heard, here’s what big business isn’t being straight with you about:
- Small businesses – those with less than 150 full-time employees – DON’T have to pay a family wage.
The right to a family wage only applies to the likes of Wal-Mart, Target, McDonald’s, Apple – the large employers in Spokane that should be paying their workers a living wage, but choose not to. Costco, a big corporation, actually pays on average more than a family wage, proving that big businesses that take the high road can be profitable without shortchanging their employees.
A family wage (single parent with one child) calculated today is $17.40 a hour; that’s enough, at full-time, to cover basic needs like food, rent, utilities, healthcare, transportation etc. A minimum wage of $9.47 an hour just doesn’t cut it.
It’s time for Spokane to move from a “Poverty Wage” to a “Living Wage.”
- Can an employer reward seniority? Absolutely! There is nothing in Proposition 1 that stops that.
What Proposition 1 reinforces and expands is the law against pay discrimination based on personal traits or characteristics, such as gender or race or sexual orientation or nationality. Proposition 1 says equal pay for equal work, where the skill, effort, and responsibility are equal. Keep in mind that women still earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men when doing the very same job with all the same skills and responsibility.
- Most people working in Spokane today are working under what is called an “at-will” agreement. That means you can quit your job at anytime, but you can also be fired from your job at anytime and fired for no reason. Stated a different way, you can be fired for no cause.
Proposition 1 would require employers with 10 full-time equivalent workers or more to have a system in place to assess work performance. And if that employer would have to fire someone, that the employer and employee would both understand that the firing was for just cause, meaning it was for work performance reasons.
For nearly 30 years now just cause protections have been on the books in Montana. And over that time it has proven to reduce claims of wrongful termination – a real benefit to both employers and employees – when the “at-will” agreement is replaced with just cause.
Here’s the bottom line, if Proposition 1 passes, more hardworking people in Spokane will earn enough to cover basic expenses, along with a few bucks left over to spend that hard-earned money at local Spokane businesses.
Here’s another fact from the research out there on raising wages for workers: businesses and employees make more money and there are no employment effects – layoffs, reduction of hours, etc. – when minimum wage increases, even in times of economic downturn.
Paying a living wage and treating workers fairly is good for business.
AND it’s the right thing to do.
The only question left to answer is this one:
Shall the Spokane City Charter be amended to add a Worker Bill of Rights, which secures
a right to a family wage when employed be a large employer, right to equal pay for equal
work, right not to be wrongfully terminated, and elevates Charter rights above rights
claimed by corporations?
The resounding answer from Spokane come November 3rd should be – YES.
YES on Proposition 1 – Worker Bill of Rights