Seattle’s push for $15/hour minimum wage takes shape

Supporters marched for the $15 minimum in December (Image: CHS)

Supporters marched for the $15 minimum in December (Image: CHS)

Here’s how the push for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle will take shape. Newly elected City Council member Kshama Sawant this week announced the 15now.org site was operational and ready to ” strengthen the grassroots movement for a $15/hour minimum wage” where “people can donate $15/month, add your name to a list of endorsers, and sign up to volunteer” –

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant along with her Socialist Alternative supporters and union allies launched the 15now.org website yesterday to strengthen the grassroots movement for a $15/hour minimum wage.

The movement for $15/hour has been growing in Seattle and nationally, spearheaded by fast food worker strikes, a successful ballot initiative in Seatac, and the Kshama Sawant campaign for city council.

In spite of opposition from big business, Seattle is poised to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour in 2014. Even the new Mayor Ed Murray has declared his support for $15.

A $15 minimum wage in Seattle will set an example that working people and unions across the country would likely be inspired to follow.

In order to counter the resistance from corporate America, 15now.org appeals to people to get involved and join the fight. At 15now.org, people can donate $15/month, add your name to a list of endorsers, and sign up to volunteer.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray, newly elected himself, announced his intention to raise the city’s minimum wage and has formed an “Income Inequality” task force to address “Seattle’s growing income divide.”

“Our city is becoming an unaffordable city for too many middle-class families, artists, students, young people, service-industry workers, immigrants new to the country,” Murray said.

The full roster of the task force is below. You’ll recognized Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells and Lost Lake owner David Meinert as Hill locals on the roster. CHS reported here on how Meinert and other Hill food and drink business owners would like to see a $15 minimum wage in Seattle implemented.

Sawant made a $15 minimum a focal point of her campaign from its earliest days. Those struggling with soaring rents may hope another Sawant focal point — rent control — also makes it onto the city’s main stage.

Meanwhile, Murray on Friday announced a plan to push the minimum wage for City of Seattle employees to $15/hour. The move will boost the hourly rate for about 600 city employees.

Murray’s “Income Inequality” task force

Name

Title

Affiliation

David Rolf President SEIU 775NW
David Freiboth Executive Secretary MLK Labor Council
Sarah Cherin Dir. Gov. Relations UFCW 21
Diane Sosne President SEIU 1199NW
Nick Hanauer Partner Second Ave Partners
Pramila Jayapal Co-Chair We Belong Together
Eric Liu Founder Citizen University
Bob Donegan President/CEO Ivar’s Restaurant
Joe Fugere Owner Tutta Bella
Dave Meinert Owner Onto Entertainment
Craig Dawson President Retail Lockbox
Craig Shafer Owner Hotel Andra
H.S. Wright III Founder and CEO Seattle Hospitality Group
Janet Ali Human Resources Supervisor Nucor Steel
Ronald Wilkowski Executive Financial Services
Genevieve Aguilar Port Campaigns Director Puget Sound Sage
Maud Daudon President/CEO Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Michael Wells Executive Director Cap Hill Chamber of Commerce
Pamela Banks President/CEO Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
David Watkins President Seattle Hotel Association
Bruce Harrell Councilmember
Nick Licata Councilmember
Kshama Sawant Councilmember-elect

17 thoughts on “Seattle’s push for $15/hour minimum wage takes shape

  1. Here’s why Sawant is off – rents in Seattle are actually falling – http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2022578166_apartmentrentsxml.html#.Usbgg-AGojw.twitter while Seattle is the 2nd best market in the country for mid to high wage job growth – http://www.forbes.com/sites/emsi/2013/11/14/the-cities-creating-the-most-high-paid-jobs-and-why-theyre-good-for-low-wage-workers-too/

    And of course Washington state already has the highest statewide minimum wage in the US.

    • I love how “After steep increases in 2013, rents should stay level or even decline” becomes “rents in Seattle are actually falling” in your mind.

  2. Sawant may think that there is momentum for a $15 minimum wage, but I’m not so sure. There will be a lot of opposition, and not necessarily just from conservative types. There are reasonable arguments against this, such as job loss because some employers will not be able to pay the 60% increase in wages and at the same time maintain their current number of employees.

    I think that a $15 wage is a nice goal, but that it should be done incrementally. Yes, Ed Murray is supportive in principal, but I doubt he will take the position it should be done all at once.

    • I 100% agree with you that the wage increase should be done incrementally. Jumping from $9.xx to $15 all at once is a huge increase in cost to employers.

      I understand that Ed Murray supports it with an exception for small businesses with less than x amount of workers. (I don’t remember where I read that, so shoot me if I’m wrong). I wonder if that would work out – would someone want to work at a mom and pop for $10 an hour when they can work at Subway for $15?

    • If hiring someone to help with your money-making venture doesn’t pencil out unless you pay slave wages, then maybe you have a flawed business plan.

      The libertarian in me has always thought the idea of forcing a minimum wage on two consenting adults who wish to trade money for labor was unfortunate. But the deck has been stacked for far too long, and a $15 minimum wage seems like a reasonable first step at leveling the field.

      • That all sounds fine, until a small business cuts back from 3 people on-duty to 2. Or when a bigger company reduces everybody’s hours from 35 or more to under 30. Or when the prices go up and nobody wants to pay it. It all depends on where that cutoff is for # of people employed at a given business. For a lot of small businesses, this could easily kill them.

        • So Jim, you’re saying that you agree that a business plan requiring slave wages in order to pencil out is probably a bad one, and you will continue to agree with that assertion until one of the conditions you describe is observed, at which point the requiring-wage-slave-labor business plan may seem to you like a good one?

  3. This is a catch 22 at it’s finest and most complicated. There are so many things I think Ed Murray isn’t thinking about. I agree that this will actually make unemployment worse. I also think rents and cost of living will increase as the idealogy changes; people make more – they can afford more. I really want to be positive about this, because so many people are living paycheck to paycheck, but think about the negative externalities and I think that list has more things on it than the positive ones.

    • While I agree that the increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea, at least to this rate, you lost me with your anti-democrat, anti-liberal, anti-anti-anti morality rant and therefore you are irrelevant and your blog is not something I would ever read again. But nice effort.

  4. So you have unskilled workers making $15/hr. What about the skilled workers who were already making $15/hr. Will they start demanding $20/hr? Then those making $20/hr start demanding $25/hr? Where does it end? Not saying that the minimum shouldn’t be raised, but this drastic lift may have other consequences which we’re not prepared for.

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