Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today announced the details of a plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, the highest of any major city in the nation.
“Seattle workers are getting a raise,” said Murray. “Throughout this process, I’ve had two goals: to get Seattle’s low-wage workers to $15-per-hour while also supporting our employers, and to avoid a costly battle at the ballot box between competing initiatives. We have a deal that I believe accomplishes both goals.”
Murray said the plan announced today has the confirmed support of 21 of 24 members of his Income Inequality Advisory Committee (IIAC), a group convened in December with representatives from Seattle’s employer, labor, and non-profit communities to address the pressing issue of income equality in Seattle.
The IIAC-supported plan lays out the following framework:
• Small businesses (businesses with fewer than 500 employees) will reach a $15 per hour minimum wage in seven years. Also established is a temporary compensation responsibility of $15 per hour to be met within the first five years, which can be achieved by combining employer-paid health care contributions, consumer-paid tips, and employer-paid wages.
• Large businesses (businesses with 500 or more employees, either in Seattle or nationally) will reach $15 per hour in three years. The wages of employees who receive health care benefits will reach $15 per hour in four years.
Previously, Murray had announced some guiding principles of the proposal while it was still under negotiation. Included among these principles is the agreement that once $15 per hour is reached, future increases will be tied to the consumer price index; and no industry, organization, or class of employers is exempted from any provisions of the deal except as provided under state and federal law.
“This is an important step in addressing the opportunity gap for workers and families in our community, and still have a policy that supports the growth of all small businesses. I am also deeply committed to other means to assist people out of low wages such as education, mentorship, and self-help development,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “I would like to thank the Mayor and the advisory members for all of their hard work in listening to the concerns of employees and employers in reaching an agreement.”
The Ethnic Community Coalition (which is comprised of The Greater Seattle Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, The King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The Korean American Chamber of Commerce) recently formed to speak out against raising the minimum wage to $15. The group said a minimum wage increase would affect low-level workers with limited English who may lose their jobs and would have difficulty finding other work in such a competitive market; halt plans for business expansion; and raise prices.
The IIAC minimum wage proposal will be heard by the City Council’s Select Committee on Minimum Wage & Income Inequality on Monday, May 5 at 2:30 pm.