Seattle mayor unveils $15/hour minimum wage proposal

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Mayor Ed Murray announces plans for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

SEATTLE — Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday announced plans for a $15 an hour minimum wage, calling the proposal that would take three to seven years to fully implement “historic.”

Murray, alongside Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and other business and community leaders, presented a plan for $15-an-hour minimum that was approved by 21 of 25 members of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee the mayor tasked with studying a way to raise wages.

The City Council needs to approve the proposal before it is adopted. They will begin reviewing the proposal on May 5.

If approved, the wage would be the highest of any major city in the nation. More than 100,000 people working in Seattle currently make less than $15 an hour.

The mayor’s agreement calls for a phased-in approach to increasing minimum wage.

Small businesses, defined as businesses with less than 500 employees, have 7 years to reach the new minimum wage. For the first five years, those businesses will be allowed to factor tips, healthcare and other benefits into that wage, but not after that.

Fewer than one percent of city businesses employee more than 500 people.

Businesses with more than 500 employees such as McDonalds and other chains will only have three years to implement the new wage, Murray said. There are more than 30,000 employees in the city that worker for a company with 500 or more people.

There are no exemptions for any business at the end of seven years to pay less than $15 an hour. Once $15 an hour is reached, future increases will be tied to the consumer price index.

Murray and others praised the ultimate compromise of the wage commission, saying the proposal was by no means perfect for anyone, but worked for all.

But Socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who spearheaded the ‘15 Now’ campaign, is disappointed at what she calls a watered-down deal.

“This proposal does not live up to the wishes of Seattle’s workers,” Sawant said after the agreement of the mayor’s task force was announced.

“It’s time to ask Starbucks why aren’t you compromising on the massive profits you make? Why aren’t you willing to give $15 an hour to your workers? Why do need three years, why do you need four years?” asked Sawant.

People on the street who were asked about the proposal were divided; some feeling the increase will improve our local economy, while others worry it could hurt the economy.

“Having it done this way by phasing it in may seem like an insult to some, but we can’t have it all at once,” said Ronald Washington.

“You get an education if you want more money. That’s a starter job, so I don’t go for that,” said David Bowington. “Our economy can’t support it and we’re going to lose jobs, I think.”

The mayor’s proposal now heads to City Council, where he anticipates a push-back from Sawant.

“I have never seen a situation where everyone is happy. I’m a politician, not a saint,” said Murray.

Here is the proposed minimum wage increases in a graph:

Minimum wage




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  • Kellen

    BAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA HAHAHAH… Whats the deal with democrats and simple math. This aint gonna work.

    • Bob

      "Income Inequality Advisory Committee " To bad they don't take into account that those being paid more have higher education and training. Where as the ones who are whining are in high school, fresh out of high school, dropped out of high school, or have no education. To bad they deceive the public by not telling them that 90% of these folks are under 21 years of age- again with little or no education.

      So in essence these whiners who wouldn't put the effort into basic education (dropped out or just passed thru), who had no goals and never worked for anything in their lives now demand middle class pay. What is next – they deserver to have house, a BMW and yacht?

      Here is a thought- you only get out of the job market what you put into it. Fast food is an entry level job- not a middle class paying wage. If you don't like working for that much than here is a thought- get some education and training. Oh wait – that would require them to get off their lazy butt's and earn it.

      Spoiled self absorbed lazy whiners.

      • Bob

        Oh and one other thing- if wait staff gets this raise then they can kiss their tips goodbye. I will never tip again since they now make a 'descent' wage and no longer require a tip. Idiots.

  • FirstNationsMember

    You want $15 an hour to flip burgers? ok I want $20 an hour just for the injustice that was done to my people so you could have your freedom, and your right to ask for $15 an hour for such a insignificant job title, Burger Flipper. You want to make decent money the right way, come to this country go to school and get an education, oh no, cant do that? of course not that would take to much effort. How about you Stfu, enjoy your freedom, and make the most out of it without having to ask for such ridiculous things.

  • Debbie

    How can you be so ignorant? Small Business and restaurants will cut staff just to keep the doors open and great service? Forget about it! This is the worst decision ever made. How will you feel paying 3x what you pay now for everything? It’s coming people, just wait! Congratulations, I can’t wait to get out of this state!

  • nichole

    What happens to the people that have been working at their jobs for years and are on a union scale and have to wait to get pay raises, where’s their increase in pay. This is a little unfair to those working hard.

  • Buford

    Maybe all the fast-food joints will close; unemployment will rise; then let's see how the LIBs approach this, with their NEW math.

  • KlintzComments

    Franchise owners pay a monthly fee to their corporate HQ.

    Let's say a corporation requires a fixed monthly franchise fee of $5,000 and it has 10,000 franchises across the nation. 10,000 * $5,000 = $50 million in monthly income for corporate HQ ($600 million in annual income).

    How much of that $600 million was paid by an individual franchise owner? $60 thousand! That's it.

    Does Seattle want all corporations to abandon the city? Increasing hourly wages by $5 for just 6 employees would cost over $5K per month (including payroll taxes). Even if the corporate HQ gave back the $5,000 monthly franchise fee, that would not be enough to make up for the $5/hour raise.

    Does Seattle want corporations to give Seattle's franchise owners free franchises?

  • art

    I am approved that wage hike because it will helps the people out of the welfare & poverty by the means of getting off the welfare with higher wage earner for entry jobs into the balanced and lower the deficits. but all of you guys don't want higher wage for entry jobs level and are you willing to pay for part of welfare benefits who can't make much more while working at the entry job position level, are you tell the people to "get education!"? that would be in massive debt that cost of the economy in negative margin. I am for higher wage & get off the welfare completely and I am also approved for ties the wage to an inflation attain index rates.

    • Steve

      Your wrong art. With the rise of minimum wage so then will the poverty bar rise. So not only will inflation make prices elevate and business not able to afford new staff…they will still get welfare/foodstams etc.

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