I-1433 Would Provide Vital Protections to Immigrants, Refugees, Low-Income Workers
No family should work full-time and still struggle to make ends meet. But every day, low income families in Washington are forced to work two or three jobs in order to pay rent and ensure their families have enough to eat. This means they can’t spend valuable time with their kids, save for an emergency or look after their own health.
These hardships are especially felt by Washington’s immigrant and refugee population. Immigrants and refugees make up a disproportionate number of workers in low-wage industries, comprising nearly 1/3 of cooks, waiters, waitresses and cashiers, and more than half of maids, janitors, building cleaners and housekeepers.
“You can’t live on minimum wage unless you have a second, or more likely, a third job,” said Martina Phelps, 24, an immigrant OneAmerica Votes member who has canvassed for I-1433 and worked on Seattle’s $15NOW movement in 2014. “Other cities have the same issues as Seattle. It’s happening everywhere in Washington now. That’s why we need a statewide minimum wage that leaves no worker behind.”
Martina was often asked to work while she was sick, and was sometimes forced to choose between her health and her job. “I’ve had to work while sick,” she said. “If you’re sick and you don’t get paid leave, you can’t get care. And if you get care, how are you supposed to pay your bills? People end up getting further and further behind.”
Barely half of all immigrants have jobs that allow them to earn paid sick leave, compared with much higher numbers for US-born workers. Homecare workers, of whom immigrants make up more than 22 percent, and childcare workers are among the least likely to have access to paid sick and safe leave.
This means that over half of all immigrant and refugee workers can be forced to choose between staying home and taking care of themselves or their child and losing their job.
Nationwide, foreign-born workers are nearly twice as likely to be the victims of minimum-wage violations as U.S.-born workers, and immigrant Latino workers had the highest minimum wage violation rates of any racial or ethnic group.
We know this isn’t right. And this November, we have an opportunity to change things. Ballot Initiative 1433 would provide all workers with paid sick and safe leave and increase the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020, putting $600 a month more in the pockets of Washington’s low-wage workers. I-1433 also includes a critical provision that addresses minimum wage violations and provides a more robust set of protections for workers against retaliation.
We believe in a Washington where all of us can thrive, where hardworking families can live without constant financial stress. That is why it’s vitally important that we vote for our families and vote YES on I-1433 this November.