UPDATE: There was a self-imposed deadline but no deal Thursday at Seattle’s City Hall. With no proposal of his own to offer, Mayor Ed Murray said at a Thursday press conference he still wanted to give his committee more time to hammer out a path to $15.
“A majority of the committee has agreed to a proposal but I don’t believe we have a good cross section of businesses and non-profits to make it viable,” he said.
Murray said the committee did agree to a set of principles, that he also backed, including an undefined phase-in period and some “benefits” counted towards to wage floor, although he wouldn’t go into specifics. He said counting tips in a minimum wage calculation was “still up for debate” and that there would be no carve-outs for small businesses or nonprofits.
“What I am concerned about is the middle class in this country is shrinking,” he said, adding that he wanted to protect small businesses like those in his home neighborhood of Capitol Hill.
Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells and and Lost Lake owner David Meinert are members of the Income Inequality Task Force. Meinert has been an outspoken champion of including “total compensation” and tips in any minimum wage agreement.
The 15 Now group has filed a charter amendment so activists can begin the process of collecting thousands of signatures to put the issue on the ballot this fall. 15% of the vote totals in the most recent mayoral election will be required. Organizers have called the amendment process the “people’s safety net” in the event City Hall cannot deliver a solution this year.
Murray said he may announce his own minimum wage proposal on Friday if the task force could not reach some consensus before then.
Original Report: There were months of committee meetings, several public forums, and a day-long symposium, but in the end Mayor Ed Murray is set to go it alone in proposing a $15 an hour minimum wage plan for Seattle.
On Wednesday the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee failed to meet their deadline to chart a course to $15. Murray said in a prepared statement that he was ready to release his own plan Thursday afternoon, but left the door open for an extra-innings deal to be struck:
We are very, very close to a deal that all stakeholders can agree with, but we are still not there yet. Tomorrow at 1:15 p.m., I am prepared to announce a plan for how we raise the minimum wage in this city. Standing with me, I hope, will be members of my income inequality advisory committee. And it is my hope that it will be all the members of my advisory committee.
The committee’s negotiations reportedly broke down over key features of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike, including how long it should take to phase in and whether tips and other benefits should be counted towards the wage floor. The committee included representatives from business, labor, and nonprofits.
Speaking on KIRO radio Wednesday night, Capitol Hill food+drink owner Dave Meinert said he and other members of the mayor’s committee had been putting in long hours throughout the week, but still could not strike a deal.
“Its been really intense, long negotiations,” he said, declining to get into specific details. “We haven’t come to an agreement but the negotiations continue.”
Earlier this month $15 Now organizers filed language for a minimum wage charter amendment with the City Clerk. If enough signatures are gathered an unmitigated $15 an hour minimum wage could be on the ballot later this year.
Meanwhile the City Council Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality continues to hold public forums to work towards their own proposal.
On Wednesday a group of $15 an hour supporters rallied outside City Hall and attempted to surround the block as negotiations continued inside the building throughout the afternoon.
A flurry of groups and coalitions formed in recent months to weigh in on the issue after the Kshama Sawant-backed $15 Now campaign had dominated much of the debate early on. A coalition calling itself 15 For Seattle stepped into the ring Thursday as the mayor’s afternoon announcement approached.
According to a press release, 15 For Seattle is a “broad coalition of more than 100 Seattle immigrant rights organizations, service providers, women’s groups, labor unions and faith leaders,” which includes Solid Ground and the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. The group says it supports a $15 an hour wage for all workers, but wants a plan “sensitive to small local businesses and non-profit organizations.”