Burien City Council considers minimum wage legislation  

Feb 29, 2024
Written by WR Communications

On February 26, the Burien City Council took public testimony and, later, discussed potential changes to its draft minimum wage legislation.

Unlike some communities, Burien developed its minimum wage proposal after months of stakeholder engagement with businesses, worker advocates, and others. It’s estimated that 90% of Burien’s business community is made up of small businesses, so the stakes are high in getting this wage standard right.

At last night’s meeting, about 20 people offered public comment on the legislation. The retailer’s perspective was represented by Marisa Wulff, Co-CEO of Mud Bay (and WR board member), which has operated a store in Burien for the past 24 years. Marisa talked about her company and urged the Council to make three changes to the legislation:

  • Change the definition of “level 1 [largest] employer” to raise the minimum number of FTEs to more than 500. Currently, the legislation sets the employment level for the largest employer category at “more than 200” FTEs;
  • In determining employer levels, count only employees working in King County; and
  • Eliminate the private of right action, which relies on private lawsuits as the primary means of enforcing the wage law.

John Engber, WR Director, Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle, also offered public comment at the meeting on behalf of WR. He praised the City for the collaborative, thoughtful stakeholder process used to develop the legislation. He focused on the same suggested changes as Mud Bay CEO, Marisa Wulff.

Several owners of small Latino businesses also shared their views about the legislation. All of those business owners either opposed the establishment of a minimum wage or urged the Council to only consider it in the future.

Others who offered comments included the owner of Elliot Bay Brewery, a waitress who expressed concerns about passing the minimum wage legislation, a McDonalds franchise owner, Annie McGrath (President/CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber), and several people who called for a stronger minimum wage law.

After the public comment period closed, the Council discussed potential changes to the legislation. While most of these decisions were pushed to a future Council meeting (giving the City Attorney time to gather information and draft potential amendment language), the Council did vote to remove the private right of action from the legislation.



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