The mayor of Seattle announced Thursday that he’d developed a plan for a $15 minimum wage that had wide backing from the city’s lawmakers, labor leaders and business community.
The proposal unveiled by Mayor Ed Murray would gradually raise the city’s minimum wage from $9.32 to $15 over the course of three to seven years, making it the highest city wage floor in the nation. The speed of the hike for individual employers would depend upon how many workers they have and the value of the non-wage benefits they offer.
“Once again Seattle has chosen to collaborate and Seattle workers are going to get a raise,” Murray said at a Thursday news conference, according to the Seattle Times.
Small businesses will have until 2019 to reach $15 an hour if they do not offer health care or tips. All other small businesses will have to pay $15 an hour by 2021. There are no exemptions for certain industries, organizations or class of employees.
The long phase-in for some businesses and the definition of small business has already been denounced by 15 Now activists who promote their initiative effort as a “real $15.” Activists on Saturday voted to go forward with signature-gathering to place a measure on the November ballot.
The plan announced by Murray this morning falls short of the wishes of “15 Now,” an organization urging adoption of a $15-per-hour minimum wage. The organization held its first national conference Saturday at Franklin High School. With more than 250 people in attendance, it voted to begin a signature-gathering campaign that could result in a ballot measure to amend the Seattle City Charter.
The charter amendment backed by “15 Now” would have no phase-in for big businesses, requiring them to start paying $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2015.
Murray, though, said he expected the deal would avoid competing minimum-wage initiatives on the November ballot. He said he doesn’t expect business group OneSeattle to move forward with an initiative.
Even with its current minimum wage at $9.32, it’s still one of the highest in the U.S.