In my former life, I was a vocational counselor. A large part of my day revolved around writing up detailed analyses of what people were required to do for their jobs and doing labor market research: finding out which jobs were available in which communities, what were the bare minimum job qualifications, and how much they paid. When looking at who is paid what and for what, it is hard to miss the everyday impact of sexism, racism, ableism, and classism on the workforce. Workers struggle to make ends meet as employers are quick to wipe their hands of any reciprocal responsibility for physical and mental health. When emergencies occur and opportunities are lost as a result, the cost of working all one’s life for sub-living wages becomes even more catastrophic.
These everyday realities are ignored when elected representatives fight against raising the minimum wage to keep pace with the costs of living. Those fighting loudest against raising the wage do not understand what is like to try to live on minimum wage in modern times. And why would they? Elected officials are not paid the minimum wage in Washington State. Elected officials’ wages are set by a commission based on what is considered “reasonable” and protected by the Washington State Constitution. While reflecting on the disconnect between officials and those they are elected to protect and serve, I drafted the “Living Wage Initiative 2021“. Nothing has been filed, but if you want to run with this and see how far it goes or have suggestions, please let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.