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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Proposition 1

Election Results

Option Votes Pct
No 20,378 62.01%
Yes 12,483 37.99%

* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.

About The Measure

The Worker Bill of Rights is a four-pronged proposition that would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” which would create a minimum wage that would differ based on each worker’s needs. It also would ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race and add protections against termination. The measure would make the rights of corporations secondary to people’s rights.

Local politicians from the left and right have come out against the measure, including Spokane Mayor David Condon, Council President Ben Stuckart, Democratic state Sen. Andy Billig and Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner. Mayoral candidate Shar Lichty has endorsed the measure.

The measure is Envision Spokane’s fourth initiative to qualify for the ballot, beginning with its Community Bill of Rights in 2009, which 80 percent of voters handily turned down. Two years later, a similar measure failed, but by just 2 percentage points.

In 2011, a coalition of business and government interests successfully blocked the Community Bill of Rights measure from appearing on the ballot – a ruling by a local Superior Court judge that was later overturned by a state appellate court. The state Supreme Court will hear the case this fall and likely make a ruling sometime next year.

The previous measures focused on environmental, neighborhood and labor rights. This year’s proposition is focused on labor rights.

The family wage provision is considered the most egregious part of the measure to its opponents, who call it “undefined” and “vague.”

The proposition would require the wage to be equal to or higher than the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington State, which calculates “how much income a family must earn to meet basic needs, with the amount varying by family composition and where they live,” according to the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County.

The wage, which would only apply to companies with 150 or more employees, would take four years to fully implement. Envision estimates that the wage for a single parent with one child would be between $17.30 and $21 an hour.

Opponents, however, believe the wage could be much higher, and add that it would apply to franchises with the bulk of their employees out of the state, as well as nonprofits such as Catholic Charities. The Washington Policy Center, a conservative organization, estimates wages could range from $11.85 to $28.11 an hour if the measure passes.

Beginning with its second ballot measure in 2011, Envision Spokane has asked voters to declare the rights of corporations as subordinate to the rights of people.

It was this provision that Condon focused on during his attempt to block the measure from the ballot this summer. Relying on an opinion from the city’s hearing examiner, Condon said the initiative was “legally flawed” because of the corporate rights provision, saying it exceeded the “jurisdictional limits of the initiative power.”

Superior Court Judge Salvatore Cozza declined to stop the Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the ballot, saying the state Supreme Court generally shies away from preventing elections from occurring. He did acknowledge that the corporate rights provision was problematic.

According to the state Public Disclosure Commission, proponents of the measure have raised $21,485 as of mid-October, most of it from the larger Envision Spokane Political Action Committee and Jim Sheehan, a progressive developer whose projects include downtown’s Main Market Co-op and Saranac Commons. Various labor groups also have donated.

Opponents of the measure have far outpaced the proponents, raising $180,714 as of mid-October. Contributors include business associations such the Washington Restaurant Association, Washington Retail Association, Spokane Home Builders Association and the Spokane Association of Realtors. Individual companies include Rosauers, STCU, Washington Trust Bank, SCAFCO, Pyroteck and the Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review.

Complete Coverage

Community Bill of Rights goes to Supreme Court

Supreme Court reviews whether voters should get a chance at the Community Bill of Rights.

Patience wins political battles

Activists can’t move the ball if they shoot for the end zone on every play.

Spokane voters reject worker bill of rights

A controversial measure to bolster worker rights in Spokane failed at the polls tonight, as 62 percent of voters rejected it. City of Spokane Proposition 1 would have amended the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race and add protections against termination. The measure would make the rights of corporations secondary to people’s rights.

Truth-testing Spokane City Council candidates

The ballots are out, and candidates want your vote. But getting your vote can be a tricky proposition, so they try all kinds of methods. Pictures of them and their smiling spouse and kids. Dramatic commercials. A little bit of mud thrown at their opponent.

Truths, half truths and other campaign claims, Part 1

Election 2015 edition, on accusations of partisan agendas, cost of bike lanes and Chomsky.

In race for Spokane City Council, Stratton and Verduin say they’re not proxies for Stuckart and Condon

Incumbent Spokane Councilwoman Karen Stratton is backed the council president. Her opponent, Evan Verduin, is supported by the mayor.

Election preview: Spokane Proposition 1, the Worker Bill of Rights

Spokane Proposition 1, the Worker Bill of Rights, is a four-pronged proposition that would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race and add protections against termination.

Supreme Court will decide if Envision Spokane’s 2013 initiative will be placed on ballot

More than two years after the Community Bill of Rights was blocked from the ballot by a Superior Court judge, the Washington state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case this week, starting a 30-day countdown for both sides to prepare their arguments.

Judge rejects Condon’s attempt to block vote on worker rights

A Superior Court judge on Thursday denied Spokane Mayor David Condon’s request to block Envision Spokane’s Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot, saying that the state Supreme Court generally rules against preventing an election from occurring. “There is a process that the court has to give some respect to,” said Judge Salvatore Cozza.

Judge rules against mayor, allows Envision to appear on November ballot

A Superior Court judge denied Spokane Mayor David Condon’s request to block Envision Spokane’s Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot this afternoon, saying that the state Supreme Court generally rules that “it is not a favored act to restrain or prevent an election to occur.”

City responds to Envision claim

The city of Spokane asserted the mayor’s right to “initiate and control litigation” in a court document Wednesday, a claim aimed at Envision Spokane, which argued earlier in the week that the mayor didn’t have the authority to block its Worker Bill of Rights from November’s ballot. In a 12-page response, the city argued that “time is of the essence” for the Spokane County Superior Court to act and strip Envision’s measure from the ballot. Superior Court Judge Salvatore Cozza will hear the case today.

Envision Spokane: Mayor doesn’t have authority to block measure from reaching ballot

Envision Spokane is pushing back against Mayor David Condon, who last week sued to keep the group’s Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the city’s general election ballot in November. In an official response to the city’s lawsuit, which was filed at Condon’s direction, the group argues that the mayor doesn’t have the authority to prevent the measure from reaching the ballot, and that only a supermajority of City Council members can block any initiative from appearing before voters.

Shawn Vestal: People, not city, should vote on workers’ bill of rights

Are we confused, electorate? I know I am. On one hand, the city of Spokane has, in essence, sued its citizens on behalf of corporations, trying to prevent voters from getting even a peek at an initiative that would enshrine the kinds of workers’ rights that give the business community the night terrors. On the same day, the city sued a corporation on behalf of a river – perhaps as Sierra Clubby a move as we can ever expect from the administration of David Condon.

Condon sues to keep Envision’s Worker Bill of Rights off ballot

Spokane Mayor David Condon is trying to block the Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the November ballot just a week after the City Council approved the measure for the ballot. The latest measure put forth by Envision Spokane – the group’s fourth to qualify for the ballot – would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race, and make it more difficult to terminate workers. The measure would make the rights of a corporation secondary to people’s rights.

Condon wants Worker Bill of Rights blocked from ballot

Spokane Mayor David Condon is trying to block the Worker Bill of Rights from appearing on the November ballot just a week after the City Council approved the measure for the ballot.

Workers Bill of Rights proposal qualifies for Spokane ballot

Enough signatures have been collected in Spokane to put a proposed Workers Bill of Rights charter amendment on this November’s ballot. If passed, the newest measure put forth by Envision Spokane would amend the city charter to require large employers to pay workers a “family wage,” ensure equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race, and make it more difficult to terminate workers. The measure would make the rights of a corporation secondary to people’s rights.

Court orders initiative vote

Envision Spokane, the twice-failed initiative seeking to bolster environmental protection and neighborhood and labor rights, will be before voters again, after a decision Thursday by a state appellate court. The ruling reverses a 2013 decision by a Superior Court judge to remove the controversial measure from that year’s general election ballot. The court ordered the city to put the measure on the next available ballot.