TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Regional economists say quarter of our local businesses could feel a change come January first and it comes at the hands of voters.
A major initiative on the ballot, Initiative 1433, calls for a statewide hike in minimum wage. It raises the standard up about $4 by 2020.
As a barista at Dutch Brothers for two years, Hannah Baldridge says she’ll make $10.25 an hour at the end of this month. However, she could see a change if voters decide on changing the minimum wage.
If the initiative is passed, Baldridge would make $11 per hour starting in January of 2017. By 2020, she’d made $13.50.
“If you're working hard and you're busting your butt trying to move up in a place then obviously you're going to want to make that much because you think you deserve it,” said Baldridge.
She says there has to be a flipside to the coin too.
“I also fear what could come of that because, even though it sounds good, other things in the future could come that are bad,” said Baldridge.
Such as a hike in prices at local restaurants, which may happen at Pacific Pasta and Grill.
“I'm worried about how my customers will react,” says the Kennewick restaurant’s owner Niki Young, adding “I worry if I will get less customers or if they will understand and I worry about my staff.”
Young says for 12 years her business has been built on quality: from food, to service, to the life of her employees.
75 percent her employees are on the pay roll full time, but she fears her business can't thrive if she's paying her servers the same amount her skilled employees get.
Young says if the initiative is passed, she'll have to consider cutting hours and opportunities for new comers to come in and work their way up the restaurant chain.
“I've given hundreds of kids their first job through the 12 years that were open and I won't be able to do that anymore it breaks my heart,” said Young.
Young may also break the trend of tipping to make up for spiked prices for food and service.
“I'd be the only way that I'd think that it would be fair for the customers and the staff,” she said.
I-1433 applies to workers over the age of 18
It would also require employers to provide paid sick leave for everyone in the workplace.