Minimum wage increase lawsuit - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Minimum wage increase lawsuit

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KENNEWICK, Wash.—Labor and Industries announced last October that Washington minimum wage would go up January 1st, 2011.  A coalition filed a lawsuit against L and I claiming the wages should stay the same.

Wednesday a Kittitas County judge rejected the coalition's motion to stop the minimum wage increase.  That means minimum wage will go up by 12 cents to $8.67 an hour stating Saturday.  However, the Farm Bureau, Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Retail Association say the increase may hurt employees.

"The cost of having an employee has become very expensive," says Steve Simmons, Country Gentlemen Owner.

Simmons says with his 50 employees the extra 12 cents add up to $100's each month.  That could result in cut hours and even jobs.

Typically minimum wage goes up if the cost of living, or Consumer Price Index, goes up.  This past year we did see bigger numbers.  However, the coalition had argued that the increase is still below numbers in 2008 when the recession hit, meaning there was no net increase, and therefore no increase in minimum wage.

"We reviewed and considered that argument and ultimately we concluded that the plantiff's reading of the law is that when the consumer price index goes up that wage goes up," says Elaine Fischer, Spokeswoman with Labor and Industries.

Even though the judge rejected the coalition's motion, the lawsuit is still open.  Now the coalition plans to meet and devise their next steps.  They hope to have a set plan by next week.