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Mayor-elect Murray tackles $15 minimum wage

SEATTLE — Mayor-elect Ed Murray announced his plan Thursday for increasing the minimum wage in Seattle when he takes office next month.  He has named a task force, including everyone from labor to the chamber, to help him chart a path.

“Is this going to be a city that is diverse economically, racially, ethnically?” Murray asked.  “That’s the challenge before us.”

murray1On the campaign trail this fall, Murray supported a minimum wage of $15 an hour, but said it should be phased in over four years in order to not be too disruptive to businesses.

Murray’s “Income Inequality” task force is his effort, his gamble really, to see if he can create some common ground and avoid the kind of fight that was just waged in the city of SeaTac over the $15 minimum wage — an initiative that was approved by voters in the Nov. 5 general election.

“I do not want the business community and the labor community of this city to spend extraordinary amounts of money on an initiative,” Murray said.

The mayor-elect has given the group until April to come up with a recommendation.  But avoiding a SeaTac-like fight means getting Murray’s diverse group to agree on a plan.

On Thursday,  all eyes were on new socialist City Councilwoman-elect Kshama Sawant.  She made it clear that while she’ll be on this committee, but she’s not going to compromise on $15 an hour.

“My role in this is to bring the voice of the workers,” Sawant said.  “Think of me as the shop steward for the working people of Seattle on this committee.”

She warned, however, that pushing a SeaTac-like initiative is “still very much under consideration” if the group doesn’t support a sufficiently progressive position.

One big objection to increasing the minimum wage so significantly is what effect that will have on small businesses.

“There are obviously small mom and pop stores that have two, three, four, five employees, well under 10 employees, that are very concerned about how to keep their doors open,” said committee member Michael Wells, director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.  “But they’re willing to engage in the conversation, and I think they all realize that now is the moment to have it.”

Murray recognizes that his group represents a wide variety of opinions and that they may not come to an agreement.  In any event, he plans to submit a minimum wage proposal to the City Council by April.

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3 comments

  • The World is Ending

    Murray may have some small concern for small business, but Sawant has none, if you look at her web site she basically says that the government should take over all business, how ever she defiantly states that the government should seize the largest businesses in the country so this leads me to believe that she would start with the big ones first then work her way down until the government owns every business in the country, and since I don't see the government starting any new businesses job growth would stop, and if she gets her long term goal (that in my opinion she won't openly say) that eventually every no matter what they do will earn the same then those who work hard dangerous jobs will get the same pay check as a burger flipper.

  • Slam1263

    Good for Seattle.

    But here's a few questions workers should ask themselves:

    Are you a good Employee?
    Do you always show up on time?
    Do you always put forth your best effort?
    Are you always pleasant to your Employer?

    $15 an hour will pay off someone student.

    And the competition for the jobs will be fierce. Employers will be able to pick the best of the best, rather than the least worst.