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Demonstrators shout slogans and carry banners in SeaTac, Washington during a protest march from SeaTac to Seattle aimed at the fast food industry and raising the federal minimum wage and Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour December 5, 2013. Fast-food wo
A $15 minimum wage for Seattle has been in the works for a while, and now the City Council has made it official:
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here — in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business — the highest big-city minimum in the nation.

“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”

Even socialist Council member Kshama Sawant voted for the increase despite having pushed to eliminate some exceptions and speed the path to $15; under the plan that passed Monday, $15 an hour won't be fully phased in until 2021, though workers at large employers that don't provide health coverage will get there by 2017. A strong majority of Seattle voters support the raise.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 09:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The part that stunned me... (13+ / 0-)
    The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council

    Let that sink in. That's what grass roots does. The oligarchs, the business interests, couldn't muster a single "No" vote in the face of the people united. We can win with this message nationally, I hope the Democrats seize on this for 2014 and beyond.

    GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 09:56:29 AM PDT

    •  well (5+ / 0-)

      also, the ogliarchs are busy excavating South Lake Union, and don't really care that much.  Some probably think it might be kind of nice.  And definitely better than being one-upped by SeaTac.  

      Increasingly I talk to people who are proud of living in our gay marrying, pot legal, health insurance state and city.  It could all go away very quickly and the rest of the country -- not to mention the east side of the mountains -- is probably not on board.  But the last few years have been a very good time to be a citizen of the state.

      And the thing is...a lot of the rich seem to not be all that opposed.  The upper part of the good burghers of our city, well, that's another story.  But a certain appreciation for the commonweal is evolving here, across classes.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:09:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yay!!! I know this is a BFD, but, I can't but (5+ / 0-)

    wonder if $15/hr will be enough by 2021.

    •  Which is why Kshama is pushing for a ballot (10+ / 0-)

      initiative to make it happen faster. She's very good at this politics thing, push hard for something, settle on the compromise then get back out and push for more. I hope she stays in politics and keeps those principles for a long time. More importantly I hope she inspires others of a similar mind to get involved.

      GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

      by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 10:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In Seattle, $15Won !! Now it goes Natiowide! (8+ / 0-)


    Los Angeles    

    San Francisco

    Tacoma, WA

    New York City

    and many more. higher living wages coming to your town or city soon!

    "....No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth!"

    by Seattle Socialist on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 10:40:01 AM PDT

  •  Min wage should not change based on employer (3+ / 0-)


    A worker for a smaller employer should not have less economic rights and protections.

    This also encourages unintended consequences as employers change what they do so they can qualify for the lower minimum wage.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 11:09:33 AM PDT

    •  while I agree with you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nextstep, jessical, ratcityreprobate

      at least in the end everybody is at the same rate, and it is then pegged to inflation.

      That part is right anyway.

    •  So the only tool in your political tool kit (5+ / 0-)

      is "my way or the highway"? That's not how you make progress. Look at what the right has done, chipping away at abortion rights for 35 years. Bit by bit they've almost completely turned back the clock. Why are we so unable to see that model works? Hell, look at the success that gay marriage advocates are having. It's taken a long time for them to get where they are and they're still at it. So taking back rights, raising the wages of workers, on so many issues we're not going to win in one magical action. It's going to take years of effort, on many fronts, and with heaps of failures to get to a better place. Celebrate this as a victory, and then get back and push for more.

      GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

      by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 01:29:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are wrong. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Nowhere in my comment did I write that the current proposal should fail.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:02:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well you certainly emphasized the negatives (0+ / 0-)

          in this victory so much so that I couldn't tell you were praising or damning it.

          GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

          by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 02:43:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe (0+ / 0-)

      But you are now pricing a small business owner like me completely out of the market.

      I hate to say it...I don't pay MYSELF...the owner of the company, equivalent to fifteen bucks an hour, because the money isn't there to do it.

      And if there isn't enogh for ME...then there SURE AS HELL isn't enough there for any employee.

      I'll be damned if I am in business to provide a living for someone else...while I make nothing!

      So there is no way MY small business would consider moving to Seattle!  I simply cannot afford it.

      So I have to do all the work myself and hire nobody.

      •  Simple economics says work that does not (0+ / 0-)

        produce value above minimum wage does not get done over the long term.  

        Similarly employees who cannot produce value above the minimum wage don't stay employed in the private sector for long.

        The much higher minimum wage in Seattle will hurt low profitability businesses that compete nationally or internationally the most.  Businesses that almost exclusively have competitors that are also subject to the new higher minimum wage will be least adversely impacted - but will still be adversely impacted in many cases.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:28:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're Forgetting (0+ / 0-)

          That this is for the city of Seattle only.

          What if I am a Seattle-based business...doing what I do, and a competitor suddenly opens his doors just over the County border in Kittitas or Snohomish County?

          My particular business model does not require a brick-and-mortar storefront, in fact, I run my business out of my home.  But my customers could come from anywhere in the United States.

          Same for my competitor who just located himself in Kittitas County.  The difference is HE doesn't have to pay his employees godawful amounts of money, whereas I do.

          I have to pass that cost off somewhere (meaning passing it on to my customers.)  Now my competitor in Kittitas can undercut me easily.

          So now, I am left with three choices:

          1. Relocate my business outside King County entirely.

          2. Fire someone and increase everyone else's workload to make up the difference.

          3. Pass on the extra cost to my customers...and lose my customers to my competitor in Kittitas.

          Either solution presents bad outcomes for my current employees.

          In Scenario 1, what if a few of my employees do not have the ability to commute to my new location...and I am not about to let them telecommute?  They lose their job.

          In Scenario 2, Somone loses their job outright...and the stress and workload on everyone else increases.

          In Scenario 3, I lose my customers, I no longer make money, and I have to shut down my business and EVERYONE loses their job.

          This sort of thing should NEVER be done on a city level, it needs to be state-level or higher...otherwise I, as a business likely to either move my business out of your high-wage area to a lower-wage haven just over some invisible boundary line....or I am going to fire someone in order to keep my payroll costs down where they were.

          I can't compete with my competitior in Kittitas County any other way.

          Fortunately for me, I am not in Seattle...and, as it is right now, I have no employees other than myself...the work volume does not really justify the need...and the cash flow does not allow for it.

          I'll be damned if an employee of mine is gonna make more than I, as the owner of the business, does!  I'll fire him first!  Sorry, folks, but I did not take substantial risks to start a business in order to provide YOU with a job.  I did it to provide ME with an income. And if you happen to make a good wage along with me making a good living, then I am happy for you.  But I'll be god-DAMNED if you're going to make a BETTER living than my employee.

          That isn't how it works.
          And I AM a Democrat.  I'm also a business owner who has to compete in the real world.  If you can't make the $15 an hour minimum wage equally apply to my local-area competitors, then you are going to force me into making decisions employees are NOT going to like.

  •  Yea! From this Seattle Native (5+ / 0-)

    "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." ~ Thomas Jefferson

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:33:57 PM PDT

  •  Why not (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral, kentkangley

    Make it immediate. It's been proven there will be no impact on businesses so what's the cause for the delay?  

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:45:29 PM PDT

    •  How many studies have looked at jumping to $15? (0+ / 0-)

      You want it to go from $9.32 to $15 at once?

      New Republic: So are the left-wing blogs as bad as the Tea Party ones in this case? -------------------------Chuck Schumer: Left-wing blogs are the mirror image. They just have less credibility and less clout.

      by AlexDrew on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:53:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, that has not been proven (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What's been shown is that moderate increases in the minimum wage (on the order of 10 to 15%) have minimal impact on employment.

      Projecting that data onto a single step 60% increase is dubious, to say the least.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:12:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Proven by WHOM??? (0+ / 0-)

      I am a small business owner.  It SURE AS HELL WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT ME.

      Right now, my small business employs nobody but me.  There isn't enough money to pay an employee.

      But, if I were to get another couple clients, I might need help.  But I'll be damned if I am gonna pay an employee MORE THAN I AM GETTING AS THE BUSINESS OWNER!!

      And that is what this wage increase would cause for me, currently.

      AND THAT IS is done incrementally.

      Maybe it doesn't hurt giant megalithic corporations...but it sure as HELL hurts a smasll business like mine.

      At least if it is done incrementally, we can begin to change our business model and pricing of our goods/services, to accommodate the higher wages.

  •  2021 is 7 yrs away. this has obamacare loopholes (1+ / 0-)

    that are going to end up benefiting those who can afford 2 or 3 lawyers, I fear.

    BTW - when you can afford 2 or 3 lawyers to get "justice" from obamacare or 15 in 7 years,

    you don't NEED obamacare or 15 in 7 years.

    Seattle "progressives" have won another victory for the CON$ultant cla$$ they live next door to or are part of.

    (pst! how many under $15/ hr. peeps are getting fucked on 29 ours a week out here in Seattle ?? 5 barristas down the street ...)

    IF the big bozy are shelling out 15 in 3 years, THEN I'll believe it happened - it will force up the wages for the little guyz.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:50:31 PM PDT

  •  I think the focus should move away from (2+ / 0-)

    nominal values like $15 or $10.10, and more toward a living wage.

    But either way, this is great news. And progress.

    "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    by pierre9045 on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 06:08:38 PM PDT

  •  There were some concessions made (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seattle Socialist

    The minimum wage is being slowly scaled up and doesn't hit $15 for several years, and businesses under a certain size are exempt.  Further, businesses providing health coverage are also not required to hit minimum wage targets at the same time as everyone else.

    It's not a monumental victory, but it is a win, and one that has to be followed up.

  •  As a Seattleite, I am very proud (5+ / 0-)

    I am very proud of my city right now, but like Kshama Sawant, I see no need for the many exceptions and the painfully slow phase-in. Working people need the money now. There is no need to wait or carve out exceptions. $15/hr now, for everyone, is a starting point to greater economic equality and a wake-up call to other cities and politicians who think we don't need to raise the minimum wage.

    But it's also a wake-up call to liberals to get up off their butts and vote for the best qualified, most progressive candidates they can. Does anyone think this would have happened if we hadn't voted for Ms. Sawant, a smart, driven Socialist? As liberal as the Seattle City Council is, no one was agitating for $15/hr until Ms. Sawant was elected.

    •  You See No Need... (0+ / 0-)

      because you never owned a business.

      All you ever did was collect a paycheck.  All you ever did was see all the money coming into your company, and just assumed it was all going into the boss's never sat on my side of the desk and saw the monies that go OUT.

      There IS a need to wait.  And do it incrementally.  I'm glad MY business isn;'t in Seattle.  An immediate increase from $10 to $15 an hour would COMPLETELY DESTROY my business...I would sooner fire someone than give them that big a jump all at once.

      I'm not in business to provide YOU a living...I am in business to provide ME a living.  and that high of a jump, all at once...would cause me to have to pay employees even more than I am getting!  Now how id that fair or right...seeing as I am the one who takes all the risks?

      I am the one who pays into Unemployment Insurance...and yet, if my business goes bankrpt...I, as the owner...WILL NOT GET U/E COMPENSATION, EVEN AS YOU, MY EMPLOYEE DOES GET THAT.

      How do you like those apples?  I pay in, yet am ever allowed to collect!  Sweet, huh?  Bet you didn't know that!

      If a wage increase is done incrementally, small businesses like mine...have time to adjust our business models...and to change the price of our goods/ cover that kind of an increase.

      People like you honestly seem to believe that people like me exist solely to provide YOU a living.

      I'm a Democrat, but even I have limits.  and I'll be god-DAMNED if someone I employ is going to make MORE money than I do!  I'll fire the employee and do the work myself first.

  •  I posted this comment earlier today (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seattle Socialist, kentkangley

    on another diary about the Seattle victory, but it bears repeating:

    Democratic Party front group Democracy for America is trying to take credit for this victory. I just received an email from them saying that they got the $15 in Seattle with no mention of Kshama Sawant.

    Here's the lying text of the email:

    We won! Today the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
     This historic victory to help lift workers out of poverty was made possible thanks to months of hard work by progressive activists across Seattle, including DFA members.

    In April, a Seattle DFA member and a low-wage worker, Sara Condra, teamed up with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich to ask our members to sign a petition she started on DFA's YouPower petition platform asking the Seattle City Council to pass a strong $15 minimum wage. More than 25,000 people from across the country signed Sara’s petition and made calls to the City Council urging them to act.

    Seattle is just the beginning. DFA is already working with partners and members across the nation to raise the minimum wage, including several efforts to raise it to $15. With your help, we can build on the momentum of this big win in Seattle!

    Will you donate $3 today to support DFA members as they work to raise the minimum wage in communities across America?

    In February, DFA hosted more than 700 watch parties around the country to show Robert Reich’s award-winning film film, Inequality for All, a rallying cry to fight income inequality. After these parties, more than 500 petitions were started by DFA members on YouPower -- DFA's petition platform for progressive change -- to raise the minimum wage in various communities, including Seattle.

    Other cities are already taking inspiration from Seattle's big victory. Progressive politicians in Chicago just introduced their own $15 minimum wage proposal, and are asking DFA members to support it on YouPower. San Francisco is considering raising their wage to $15, and we expect other cities to follow soon.

    DFA is also working to raise the wage at the state level. Our members in California are working hard to get the State Assembly to pass a $13 minimum wage -- it just passed the State Senate on Thursday.

    Together, we helped Seattle take a bold step to getting as many workers out of poverty as possible. Now is the time to seize the momentum and raise the minimum wage across the country. Will you help?

    DFA members across America are working hard to raise the minimum wage in their community. Will you support them with a $3 donation today?

    Thank you for helping win this big victory in Seattle -- and helping us win similar victories across the country,

    - Robert

    Robert Cruickshank, Senior Campaign Manager
     Democracy for America

    The big lie is that the campaign for $15 started in April with a DFA petition. Actually, it started during Kshama's campaign that led to her election to the Seattle city council in January.

    According to Bill Moyer's Movement Action Plan:

    The powerholders will try to cloak themselves in the same colors as the movement they are fighting against. In the Seattle case the Democratic Party is trying to coopt the term "progressive" and claim our victory as its own.

    These scum are no better than the Republicans. They work for the same 1%. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is simply this:

    Republicans engage in retail nastiness against the poor and defenseless, kicking them while they are down (eg. refusing Medicaid expansion).

    Democrats engage in wholesale destruction of the working class, repealing Glass-Steagall, introducing NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, welfare "reform", etc. They lie that they are working for the working class, with the Seattle case a prime example. See this well-documented diary.

    Give your $3 to Kshama's campaign, not to DFA.

    The 99% are watching.

    by unclejohn on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 06:40:25 PM PDT

  •  This is NOT a win. $15/hr by 2021 (0+ / 0-)

    We have got to stop calling these weak, bs appeasement legislation bills as a win. How much do you think $15/hr will really mean calculating in for inflation. Come on people, this is bs!

    •  This is a win (0+ / 0-)

      Allowing for 3% annual inflation between now and 2021, this translates to a 30% real increase in the minimum wage (versus the current Washington minimum wage of $9.32, which would scale up to $11.46/hour in 2021 if inflation averages 3%).

      Yes, it's a compromise -- but it's a pretty good compromise, with a lot more good than bad from a progressive viewpoint.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 08:16:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Going About It All Wrong... (0+ / 0-)

    As a small business owner...and a Democrat, I am here to tell you it or not, you are going about this all wrong.  Please read this all the way through and REALLY THINK about what I am saying before you dismiss me, and trash me...beause you WILL LIKE what I have to say at the end of this....

    Here is the basic problems with raising the minimum wage - especially rasing it this high...

    Employee A is at minimum wage, let's say, $10 an hour, for round figures.  Employee B is making $16 an hour.

    Employee B will not see his wage rise with the minimum wage inscrease...but he will feel cheated, as he was once six dollars ahead of minimum, and is now only one dollar ahead.  so he is gong to demand a wage increase...and so is everyone else.

    This is going to cause prices to go up, since money does not grow on trees.  That or it will cause businesses to leave Seattle and go elsewhere wher they don't have to pay such high wages.

    The net result of either outcome is that people's BUYING POWER will decrease.  Either by lack of jobs...or by price increases eating up more than they gain by wage increases.

    Let's face it...if you make five bucks an hour, and a pair of shoes costs you twenty're better off than if you are makng ten bucks an hour, but the same shoes cost you fifty bucks.

    When you were making five bucks, in my had to work four hours to afford the shoes.  After you started making ten bucks...suddenly you had to work five hours to buy the same shoes.  YOUR BUYING POWER DECREASED EVEN AS YOUR WAGE INCREASED.

    How to deal with this problem...and how to do a minimum wage increase CORRECTLY??

    Simple.  Do it incrementally, as it is being done in Seatlle...BUT TIE FUTURE INCREASES TO THE INFLATION INDEX.  Thus, as prices increase, and inflation rises, so also will people's wages...therefore they won;t lose BUYING POWER.

    Because, if I understand correctly, the goal is not to put more money into the pockets of these people...if that money won't buy them a decent standard of living...what you want to increase is not their wages, but their BUYING POWER.

    And THAT is how you do it right.

    Raise the minimum wage over a few years...AND include in the legislation annual raises that keep pace with the cost of living.

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