Economy

Seattle To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour

Seattle just passed an ordinance which will gradually raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Seattle To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour
Twitter / @KUOWdebwang
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Seattle's city council unanimously approved a plan to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, giving it the highest minimum wage in the U.S.

The compromise ordinance passed Monday follows a year of pressure from labor activists and low-wage workers. Activists packed the council room during debate on the proposal, and erupted in cheers when the measure passed. (Via NWCN)

The ordinance will gradually raise the minimum wage for large businesses over the course of three to four years. Smaller businesses have seven years to transition. (Via City of Seattle)

Seattle mayor Ed Murray, along with Socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant, have both been credited with pushing the $15 wage floor proposal to a vote. Sawant celebrated the victory in a statement published by the activist group 15 Now. (Via Twitter / @KUOWdebwang)

"All of us together forced business and Seattle's political establishment to act. We forced them to lift 100,000 low-wage workers in Seattle out of poverty."

The finished proposal did grant businesses a few exceptions to the new minimum wage, like credits for tips and health coverage. Sawant says she plans to challenge those amendments in the future.

On the other side of the issue, the International Franchise Association says it will file suit against the city for lumping franchise owners in as big businesses, which it claims is "unfair and discriminatory."

Seattle's new wage floor is likely to boost campaigns to raise wage rates across the country. The Guardian notes governments in California, Chicago and New York have all considered proposals to raise their local minimum wage.

But a writer for Slate cautions the city's plan is untested and could potentially result in stiffer competition for minimum wage jobs.

"It seems reasonable to suspect that college-educated workers from around the region will take a growing share of jobs that might have once gone to high-school grads. If that's the outcome, Seattle could become a more hostile place for young and poor workers to live than it is today."

The city's new ordinance goes into effect on April 1, 2015.