Fight for $15 minimum wage marches to Seattle

IMG_2970Activists marched 14 miles from SeaTac to Seattle City Hall Thursday to symbolically bring the fight for a $15 minimum wage from one arena of victory to what could perhaps be the effort’s next battleground.

The Seattle Times reports that City Council member-elect Kshama Sawant is planning a push for the $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle as one of her first legislative efforts in 2014:

Sawant said she plans to introduce a minimum-wage ordinance to the council as her first order of business in January and will try to create a council affordability committee. She supports Murray’s efforts to start a dialogue with labor and business but isn’t interested in a long process.

“I look forward to working with the City Council and the mayor to pass a $15-an-hour minimum-wage ordinance,” Sawant said. “However, if corporate resistance results in the ordinance getting watered down or not passing in 2014, then we will need to place an initiative on the 2014 ballot. Seattle’s average rent rose faster than any other city in the country last year. Workers simply can’t afford to wait any longer for $15 an hour.”

SeaTac voters narrowly approved a bump to a $15 minimum and “some paid sick days for about 6,500 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International airport and related businesses” in November’s election. “Alaska Airlines and others have filed a lawsuit in county court challenging the initiative,” KING TV reports.

In Seattle, the minimum wage will increase to $9.32 per hour beginning January 1, 2014 with the rest of the state. While Washington leads the nation with the highest minimum wage, local municipalities such as San Francisco weigh in above the $10 mark. A move to $15 in Seattle would, of course, blow that away.

Mayor-elect Ed Murray has said he would support a $15 minimum wage in the city and wants to avoid a costly initiative process but sorting out exactly how it would be implemented and what kinds of businesses it would and would not apply to is yet to be spoken about publicly. Returning City Council members have been mostly supportive of the raise for thousands of workers in Seattle but have also been beyond cautious in that support.

Sawant, on the hand, made the issue a centerpiece of her campaign and stunning victory over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin this fall.

CHS is currently talking with local business owners about possible impact from a raised minimum wage. So far, we’ve heard a more nuanced set of messages than you might expect with some predicting armageddon and others lauding the effort. We’ll have more on that soon — if you’d like to be part of the discussion, let us know at CHS@capitolhillseattle.com. Of course, you can also speak up in comments below.

9 thoughts on “Fight for $15 minimum wage marches to Seattle

  1. Great idea! I’m glad the mayor’s for it too! There are too many coffee shops on Capitol Hill right now, not to mention those innumerable pests, the smug baristas. A $15 minimum wage in Seattle will take care of both those problems for good.

    I hope it also applies to those idiots, walking around with clipboards in the summer, who want to talk to you about “the children”. If I never saw one of them again I’d be happy.

      • The clipboard people you see often on our streets are employed by a national business called “Grassroot Campaigns Inc…..they contract with groups such as the ACLU to do fund-raising and to get people to join as members. In addition to being pests, they are the business which puts up hundreds of flyers on our utility poles to recruit new workers…..which, fortunately, are promptly removed by others.

        This business employs young people who are desperate for a job, but most are only short-term employees. I doubt that many of them actually care about the cause they are soliciting money for.

  2. I hope it passes here. I’ve rarely made that even though I have advanced degrees and skills and lots of experience. I just hope that rents etc. don’t go up expecting that this is some kind of “windfall” for people. I’d love to make that, but in the rare instances when I did I was by no means rich.

    Also, for the person berating the “idiots with clipboards”–yes, they can be annoying and sometimes overly aggressive, but as someone who has done that job I can tell you that many people get into it trying to help out causes they believe in (I carried a clipboard for the ACLU on behalf of gay rights) and many also take this thankless and very difficult (and often poorly paid) job because it’s the only job available at the moment. Walk away, express disinterest, whatever–but remember that these are just people trying to scrape by however they can. It was one of the worst jobs I ever had, but we do what we have to do to survive. Isn’t that better than just relying on handouts or becoming another member of the homeless population because we cannot make the bills? Have some heart! I hope you never have to face the scorn of others because you have had to take a job like that.

  3. Those jobs, needed by people who are doing what they have to do in order to survive (your words) won’t exist if they had to pay a $15/hr minimum wage. In fact, given the base pay and the typical working hours those people are getting more-or-less HALF of the CURRENT minimum wage (according to a review at the Indeed jobs site: http://www.indeed.com/cmp/Grassroots-Campaigns/reviews?lang=en – notably, you won’t find ANY mention of pay rate on Grassroots Campaigns own web site). Those folks will be out there on the street selling Real Change along with all the former barristas. So good luck with that.

    (Why not just be a telemarketer? Easier on the feet and you won’t have the karmic impact of deluding yourself you’re “working for the betterment” of society?)

    • The possibility that “charity muggers” (like that term!) would disappear from our streets almost makes me want to support the $15/hour minimum wage.

  4. Pingback: $15 minimum wage in Seattle? Here’s what Capitol Hill food+drink business owners think | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  5. This is simply impossible for small businesses to absorb. People pushing this have no business’s segment experience and simply don’t understand what small business ownership is like. Small business owners are struggling and fighting too! We currently employ 11 people who are all paid $10 or more per hour. If minimum wage is raised to $15 we will be forced to shut down about half of our operation, meaning at least 5 people will lose their jobs. No exaggeration, no hyperbole.

    If you have no business management experience consider this: on the low side, employment taxes are 20%. Meaning $15/hr costs employers $18/hr.

  6. Pingback: Seattle’s push for $15/hour minimum wage takes shape | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

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