In anticipation of what may be a big money battle on the horizon in 2014, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant along with her Socialist Alternative supporters and union allies launched the 15now.org website yesterday to strengthen the grassroots movement for a $15/hour minimum wage.
Socialist Alternative is a national organization of community activists that fights against budget cuts in public services and for living wage jobs and militant, democratic unions.
The website asks supporters to donate $15 a month (or any other amount) to support the initiative to pass a $15/hour minimum wage in Seattle.
Seattle’s $15 minimum wage movement is preparing for what Mayor Ed Murray described this week as a war between labor and business that will divide the city come November—if negotiations fail.
In December, Murray created the Income Inequality Advisory Committee made up of leaders from both business and labor, members of the City Council, and other community stakeholders to try to reach a consensus before the minimum wage issue is put on the ballot.
“This is what is going to happen if my process fails, someone’s going to put it on the ballot and labor and business are going to spend a massive amount of money to either pass it or defeat it,” Murray said. “It will divide us as a city. And business should spend their money on creating jobs and labor should spend their money on helping workers. So that’s why I put this process together to hopefully prevent a battle in November.”
Sawant, who corner-stoned her campaign on the $15 minimum wage, is also on the advisory committee. She has agreed to hold off on putting a measure on the ballot while the advisory committee tries to find consensus.
“Good jobs are disappearing while the wealthiest one percent are taking an unprecedented share of the national income,” Sawant said in a statement on the 15now.org website. “Nobody should have to struggle on poverty wages just to satisfy big corporations’ endless thirst for profits. Fast food and low wage workers are rising up demanding a $15/hour minimum wage. Let’s unite in the fight for $15 and win an historic victory for working people.”
Business owners who are against raising the minimum wage caution that it would cause businesses to cut jobs in order to meet the minimum wage requirement and result in a lower quality of service for consumers. One Seattle business owner told NPR that he doesn’t think raising the minimum wage should be a government mandate.
As talks in Seattle move forward into the new year, parties on both sides are also watching developments at the federal level. President Obama recently announced that raising the federal minimum wage will be part of his agenda.
On January 1, Washington state’s minimum wage, the highest in the nation, rose 13 cents to $9.32.
If any resolution is going to be reached on Seattle’s minimum wage, there must be an inclusion of people from all social and economic backgrounds in the dialogue.
A 15now.org rally is scheduled for Sunday, January 12 at Labor Temple’s Hall One, 2800 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. Rally begins at 2:30 p.m.