Seattle mayor pushes for phased-in, $15 minimum wage

Seattle mayor declares an "historic" day for city as he proposed $15 minimum wage.

SEATTLE — Declaring this an “historic” day for a progressive city, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a proposal for a $15 minimum wage to be phased in over several years at different rates for large and small businesses.

“Not everybody will be on board,” Murray acknowledged during a Thursday morning news conference. But “I think this is an historic moment for the city of Seattle. We once again can do great things in the city… We’re going to improve the lives of workers who can barely afford to live in the city” without creating an undue burden for businesses.

The City Council will begin considering the proposal, which represents compromises by both business and labor, on Monday. The proposed ordinance stemmed from the work of a 25-member task force put together by Murray earlier this year.

Although Murray embraced the idea of raising the minimum wage during his 2013 campaign, City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant made a $15 minimum the cornerstone of her run for office. The council’s first Socialist member in about a century, Sawant said the measure announced Thursday did not go far enough.

“I don’t support phasing in for big business,” Sawant said. “Every year of a phase-in means yet another year in poverty for a worker.”

Sawant said she will continue to support signature gathering for a ballot initiative that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour without a phase-in period and without considering tips or health care coverage as part of the hourly income.

Business, she said, “lost its public battle on $15 and is now trying to water it down.”

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