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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Yay or nay on the Worker Bill of Rights: Spokane candidates on how they’ll vote

Candidates running for elected office in Spokane will share the ballot with Envision Spokane's Worker Bill of Rights. We asked them if they'll vote for it or not. Here are their answers:

Ben Stuckart, incumbent candidate for Spokane City Council president: No, plank 4 of Envision Spokane is unconstitutional and will cost money in the court system.  I do not like that Spokane is being used as a test case for one group to try and pass an initiative so that we have a Supreme Court test case. 

John Ahern, candidate for council president: Refused to answer questions.

Mike Fagan, incumbent candidate in Spokane City Council District 1: No, it is legally flawed, too ambiguous, and will invite legal actions against the city which will be paid for by the tax payers. The initiative is also a tool to grow government for the purposes of administering and enforcing programs on issues that should be left to the employer and their prospective employee. 

Randy Ramos, candidate in district 1: The provisions in the Workers Bill of Rights are all things I have come out in support of. A living wage, equal pay for equal work, and the right to just cause termination are vital to a strong workforce, and a strong city overall. I would like to see a better system used to determine the minimum wage, however, and I’m concerned about the potential cost to the city if this initiative is challenged in court.

LaVerne Biel, candidate in district 2: I do not support Envision Spokane’s Worker Bill of Right.  I do not support the Worker Bill of Rights due to vague and restrictive wording in the underlying charter. The charter defines the following summary:The family wage provision is vague and undefined.  Recent studies show that the new wage could be higher than anywhere in the world.  This will raise prices and impact everyone who is on a fixed income in Spokane.  This is not sustainable for Spokane. The Equal Pay provision:   eliminates seniority pay based on experience and bonuses based on performance. The at-will provision:  will hurt younger and entry-level workers as many local businesses will avoid hiring them due to restrictive rules. Corporate rights provision:  eliminates protection for corporations, partnerships, nonprofits, local governments, and unions.  This will essentially eliminate people participating in these organizations.  This has already been found to be illegal by the City of Spokane’s Hearing Examiner and will lead to expensive litigation funded by the taxpayers. 

Lori Kinnear, candidate in district 2: I would not vote for it. I respect the initiative process, and believe that the hoped-for outcomes are well intentioned, however I question whether this initiative is well thought out or accountable to the citizens. My concerns are that some of the “rights” it speaks of may violate state law, while others are not clearly defined or researched.

Karen Stratton, candidate in district 3: No.  It is well established that the measure is legally flawed.  I also do not think Spokane can support the wage requirements.  Rather than mandating changes through yet another overly-broad measure full of potential for unintended consequences, we should be focusing on targeted measures tailored to the working climate and business environment in Spokane, such as the proposed safe and sick leave policy.

Evan Verduin, candidate in district 3: I have publically endorsed the Vote No on Prop 1 campaign, I cannot say that for my opponent. If passed, companies with more than 150 employees would be required to pay a “family wage” which is determined by a formula that calculates cost of living, currently estimated at nearly $23/hr. Passing this proposition will hurt those it claims to help, low wage earners, fixed incomes, those in poverty. As a city we want to attract companies and new job opportunities, the added burdens imposed by this proposition will instead raise the costs of goods and services, force employers to cut other benefit packages and further deter business from locating within Spokane. Our own impartial decision maker (the hearing examiner) found one of the provisions to be unconstitutional, likely leading to the failure of Spokane to fully legally implement, significant legal costs to defend lawsuits and ultimately the reduction of city services or increases in taxes to implement other provisions of the proposition.

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We didn't ask Mayor David Condon about how he'll vote because he has come out strongly against the measure, and even attempted to get it kicked off the ballot. His opponent, Shar Lichty, has endorsed the measure.

Be sure to read our complete coverage of this year's races before filling out your ballot.




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Nicholas Deshais
Joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He is the urban issues reporter, covering transportation, housing, development and other issues affecting the city. He also writes the Getting There transportation column and The Dirt, a roundup of construction projects, new businesses and expansions. He previously covered Spokane City Hall.

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