SEATTLE — Mayor Ed Murray signed legislation Tuesday raising Seattle’s minimum wage for those 18 and over to $15 an hour over a three- to seven-year period, depending on a business’ number of employees.
“Although it is historic, today marks a beginning, not an end,” Murray said before signing the bill outside the Cal Anderson Park shelter house. “It is not about promises kept, but about promises to keep.
“We have taken a great step forward in the challenge of addressing income inequality and rebuilding the middle class. And it’s a step we recommend to other cities around the country who seek to take action as we have,” Murray said.
Murray said the city must also work to provide children with preschool opportunities, seniors with recreational opportunities at community centers, transit opportunities for all, and housing that’s affordable to Seattle’s working families.
The mayor said, “I’ll close by returning to my favorite FDR quote: ‘The country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.’
“The economic policy of the (past) 34 years has failed, it has decimated the middle class and it has created the largest income inequality gap in our history,” Murray said.
“Seattle is trying something else. And we are doing it the Seattle way, through collaboration with our great community of businesses large and small – this city’s leaders in innovation, job creators and civic partners. Seattle – all of you here today – has shown that we can help our employees without hurting our employers. I want to again thank you all for your leadership.”
By a 9-0 vote, the Seattle City Council on Monday approved the bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making Seattle the first major city in America to take such an action.
Beginning April 1, 2015, the legislation will gradually raise the minimum wage for those 18 and over to $15 per hour (chart is below).
The International Franchise Association immediately announced it would file a lawsuit to block what it calls an “unfair” and “discriminatory” plan that would harm franchisees — those who own a local Subway or McDonald’s but are considered a big business under the plan.
Twenty-four percent of Seattle workers earn hourly wages of $15 per hour or less, and approximately 13.6 percent of the Seattle community lives below the federal poverty level, according to a University of Washington study.
Washington state’s minimum wage is currently $9.32 per hour.
Socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, said, “We forced the city establishment to lift the wages of 100,000 low wage workers in Seattle – to transfer $3 billion from business to workers at the bottom of the wage scale over the next 10 years. We did this. Workers did this.
“Today’s first victory for ’15’ will inspire people all over the nation,” she said.