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Washington Business Summit Features Hot-Button Issues Such As Minimum Wage Increases

Eino Sierpe
Activists packed a Seattle City Council meeting in 2014 as city leaders voted to raise the minimum wage over several years to $15 an hour.

Washington businesses that want to have a role in shaping minimum wage policies will get a chance to talk strategy this week. The Association of Washington Business is holding its annual policy summit, with one panel devoted to the hot-button issue of minimum wage hikes. 

Labor unions and grassroots activists have led the fight for a higher minimum wage, both locally and across the country. But Kris Johnson, president of the association, says business owners want to make their voices heard as these wage policies are crafted.

"We’re going to have a unique opportunity to engage both policy makers and employers and then have a discussion for our members to figure out, how are they a part of that solution?" Johnson said.

The minimum wage panel includes Spokane Mayor David Condon and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. Strickland’s been in the thick of the minimum wage debate this year after activists got a $15 minimum wage initiative on the November ballot. Strickland put forward a competing initiative that’s a more gradual, less ambitious wage hike.

Bob Donegan, president and co-owner of Ivar’s Acres of Clams, will also be on the panel. He took part in Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage task force.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.