Local opposition emerging to Bellingham Initiative #4 (I-4)

Oct 13, 2021
Written by wpengine

In early September, most Bellingham voters and business owners were simply unaware of the content and impacts of Bellingham I-4. The initiative, which qualified for the ballot in August,

  • Requires $4 per hour hazard pay for all employees working within the Bellingham city limits when there is any declared state of emergency.
  • The hazard pay is required regardless of whether the emergency poses any risk to workers.
  • Imposes secure scheduling requirements on all employers in Bellingham with 14-day scheduling and mandated penalty compensation.

After the Labor Day Holiday, the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce embarked on a monumental effort to educate businesses, non-profits, government leaders, schools, and colleges about I-4. The outcomes of their efforts are impressive:

  • More than 100 businesses have joined in a letter urging opposition to I-4, and the list is growing.
  • The Non-Profit community is preparing communications on the impacts of the initiative on key activities such as childcare, after-school programs, and other critical community services.
  • An unprecedented coalition, including the Bellingham Chamber, Whatcom Business Alliance, Bellingham Whatcom Lodging Association, Fairhaven Association, Downtown Bellingham Partnership, Boundary Bay Brewing Company, Visit Bellingham, and other local businesses have joined together to educate and communicate concerns with I-4 in Bellingham.
  • On September 11th, the Bellingham City Council received an analysis showing that I-4 alone could cost the City $4-$6 million per year. In response, the Council adopted a resolution ( on a 6-0-1 vote) urging a “NO” vote on all four initiatives, including I-4, that People First for Bellingham qualified for the November ballot.

Washington Retail has been working with a broad group of Associations and businesses to assist local retailers and other employers in educating voters about the impacts of I-4. For more information on these efforts, contact Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs