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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial endorsement: Proposition 1 wages war on economy

Vote no on Spokane’s Proposition 1, the misnamed Worker Bill of Rights.

It would be more appropriately named the Remaining Worker Bill of Rights.

If passed, Spokane would have the highest minimum wage in the United States: $17 per hour, according to proposition organizers; $20-plus, according to the Washington Policy Center, among others.

Even if the low-ball estimate is correct, the result is a wage 70 percent higher than that for Washington, and more than double Idaho’s.

So, put yourself in the position of a business owner. Are you going to locate your business west of Havana Street (Spokane), east of Havana (Spokane Valley), or Post Falls or Coeur d’Alene.

During endorsement interviews with The Spokesman-Review editorial board, Spokane Valley City Council candidates grinned like cheshire cats at the mention of Prop. 1. It would be the best business recruitment tool they’d ever receive.

If you already have a business in Spokane, do you aspire to grow your workforce to more than 150, where the “family wage” provision kicks in? If you employ 160 or 170, do you lay off 10 or 20 to escape the requirement?

Here’s a simple math exercise: Multiply 52 weeks, times 40 hours a week, times $10 (Washington’s minimum wage rounded up). The result is $20,800.

Repeat, using $17 an hour. The result is $35,360 – an additional $14,560 per year in additional pay for employee.

Great for the employee but, again, why pay that in Spokane if you can pay less anywhere else in the country, let alone the east side of Havana?

And why hire someone if, once in the door, they become a headache to fire?

Prop. 1 eliminates at-will termination, requiring instead “just cause” for companies with as few as 10 workers. Aside from the expense of the documentation that will be necessary, litigation challenging termination could result in a judgment for back pay, reinstatement, worker attorney fees, costs and “damages (undefined).”

But the kicker is this: Businesses will have no right to challenge any part of Prop. 1 in court. They will not be able to invoke the supremacy of state or federal law, or assert the city of Spokane lacks the authority to adopt the law.

But “any person” can sue the city for failing to comply with Prop.1’s family wage provision. Any person. From where? With what standing?

Joe Blow from Ocala, Florida, will have more legal recourse under Prop. 1 than a business that has been in Spokane for decades.

There is hardly a word in Prop. 1 that is not an invitation for litigation that will bankrupt businesses and cripple the city.

The backers of Prop. 1 envision a worker’s paradise. It will be a lawyers’ paradise.

No business will relocate to a city that demands they pay the nation’s highest minimum wage, whatever that may be; or to a city that takes away their legal rights.

A city committing economic suicide.

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