Election change delays start date for Alaska minimum wage increase

Workers looking for a raise at the start of next year will have to wait a couple of months into 2015 for Alaska's voter-approved minimum wage increase to take effect.

According to the language of Ballot Measure 3, "This bill would raise Alaska's minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour as of January 1, 2015." A second increase, from $8.75 per hour to $9.75 per hour, is slated for Jan. 1, 2016.

But the first pay increase won't actually take effect until 90 days after the election results are certified. Ed Flanagan, former state labor commissioner and chair of the group Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage, said the date will be "on or about Feb. 28."

The initiative was supposed to appear on the August primary ballot. In that case, the Jan. 1 timeline would have applied, Flanagan said.

"When (the measure) did get moved because of the (state) Legislature running overtime, there was no way to go in and amend the initiative," Flanagan said.

Alaska's constitution requires that a citizen initiative must appear on the first statewide ballot held more than 120 days after the Legislature adjourns its regular session following the filing of the initiative petition. The 2014 session went over its statutory 90-day limit, pushing three initiatives from the August primary ballot to the November election.

At least 16,000 Alaska workers will see a raise with the first minimum wage hike, with another 8,000 to 10,000 indirectly affected through wage scales, Flanagan said. The second pay raise is still slated to take effect at the start of 2016.

Some 48,000 workers statewide are expected to be affected overall.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.