The Seattle City Council voted Monday afternoon to require a minimum wage in the city that will — eventually — be the highest in the nation.
“Today’s first victory for fifteen will inspire people all over the nation,” said Council member Kshama Sawant, largely credited with being the the architect of Seattle’s move to address wage inequality.
“Today, workers in Seattle have made history.”
Mayor Ed Murray will sign the legislation Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony slated for 1:15 PM in Cal Anderson Park.
Approval of Council Bill 118098 and Resolution 31524 sets the wheels in motion to move Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour for every worker in the city by 2021. Murray’s May Day compromise plan created tiers of phase-in schedules intended to help protect Seattle businesses with fewer than 500 employees and nonprofits from unintended consequences of a higher minimum wage. Last week, the City Council’s minimum wage committee added a roster of amendments and additions to the plan including a sub-minimum training wage and specifics about how impacts of the plan will be monitored and analyzed.
During Monday’s full council session, Council member Nick Licata introduced an amendment to nix the training wage element of the plan. Sawant argued in favor of Licata’s amendment and was joined by three members in voting for the change. Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, and President of the Council Tim Burgess voted to retain the training wage component and the amendment was defeated.
A Sawant amendment to roll back the start date for the plan to January 1st was also defeated with no votes from Rasmussen, Bagshaw, Clark, Godden, and Burgess. Sawant also found no support from her fellow delegates for an amendment to eliminate the plan’s phase-in schedule. Her proposal to eliminate tip credit language from the legislation also found no additional support from the other members of the council.
The approval marks the end of a City Council process that began in March with a meeting at First Hill’s Town Hall to begin public testimony on raising the wage.
There are still potential barriers. A franchise group was the among the first to say it plans to sue the city over the new wage plan.
Organizers have not yet said if the approval will end fall ballot plans for a charter amendment to move the city to $15 per hour on a more aggressive schedule.
It seems clear that for Sawant’s Socialist Alternative party, the approved legislation is victory enough.
“$15 in Seattle is just the beginning,” Sawant said. “We have an entire world to win. Solidarity.”