UPDATE: The Seattle’s City Council voted Thursday to move Seattle’s $15 minimum wage plan forward — along with a small army of amendments to the legislation.
“I appreciate the good work of the City Council to make clarifications and technical fixes to our minimum wage legislation while keeping the overall framework of the deal we announced on May 1st intact,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement released following the vote. “I want to thank the Council’s minimum wage committee for its unanimous vote, and I look forward to action from the full Council in the coming days.”
“Together,” Murray said, “we are on the verge of making a huge economic difference for tens of thousands of Seattle workers at the same time that we are on the verge of making history.”
Among the amendments making the cut was the shift in a start of implementation for the plan to April, 2015 and the addition of a “sub-minimum wage” for trainees and young workers. Meanwhile, an amendment mirroring a charter initiative from the $15 Now group to require large businesses with more than 500 employees to implement a $15/hour minimum starting January 1st failed.
During the Council committee session, representative for $15 Now announced they have collected 10,000 signatures to put the more aggressive move to the higher minimum wage on the ballot this fall.
Seattle’s City Council will get started a little earlier than normal Thursday morning as representatives prepare to pound out the legislation that will pave the way to a $15 minimum wage.
Starting at 9 AM, the council’s minimum wage committee is slated to deliberate Mayor Ed Murray’s May Day compromise plan that creates tiers of phase-in schedules leading to a $15 base for all Seattle workers by 2021.
It’s not exactly $15 Now but the mayor’s plan has already been held up as a groundbreaking move and a likely harbinger of things to come as cities seek to stem the tide of financial inequality in the country. Not everyone is happy. One Capitol Hill representative to the mayor’s task force has called the process “a charade.” Meanwhile, Council member Kshama Sawant — who made the $15 minimum wage a viable political position in Seattle in the first place — is also receiving global attention for her work even as she had found herself having to again go on the attack against what she says are efforts to further water down Murray’s compromise.
The Seattle Times Editorial Board and other old-school business boosters have come out in support of adding a sub-minimum wage “for 16- and 17-year-olds, as well as allowing a lower wage for a month or two of training.”
And, of course, lurking in the background remain efforts to put possible minimum wage initiatives on the Seattle ballot this fall should Seattle’s City Hall fail to act decisively on the $15/hour issue.
At Thursday’s council session, a host of amendments (PDF) to the minimum wage plan will be introduced including a handful brought to the table by Sawant seeking to put more “$15 Now” in the time table:
Another set of proposed amendments to Murray’s plan are less interesting than the sub-minimum and training wage ideas though they sound exciting — Resolution to Strengthen Implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance. The resolution’s amendments include a call for “academic researchers… to conduct an evaluation of the economic impacts of the local minimum wage in 2017 and 2019, after two and four years of implementation” and the formation of a 15-member Minimum Wage Commission that would meet for five years following the implementation of the new wage legislation. Another amendment being proposed would require Murray’s office to provide a plan for how the city would meet its obligations under the proposed minimum wage schedule.