The local battle over raising minimum wage is going national

by: Essex Porter Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. —

The local battle over raising the minimum wage is going national.

Democrats have decided to put higher wages at the center of their plan to stop Republican gains next November.

The demands for a higher minimum wage come from working class Americans who are more productive, but whose wages haven't kept up with increases in inflation.

"It's been about 20 years since most Americans got a real wage increase," said Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, a progressive think tank.

Workers in the city of SeaTac won a $15 an hour minimum wage at the polls, but now they have to appeal Friday's court decision saying that it doesn't apply to airport workers.

In the same election, Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant rode the minimum wage issue to victory in Seattle.

But win or lose in SeaTac and Seattle, the fight here has sparked a national battle over the minimum wage with Democrats planning to use the issue to win in the 2014 elections.

The New York Times points out that a Democratic Senate candidate in conservative South Dakota put a higher minimum wage at the center of his campaign. And President Barack Obama wants to raise the federal minimum for $7.25 to $10.10 by 2015.

"It's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that in real terms right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office," the president said earlier this month.

Democrats are planning to put the minimum wage on the ballot in key states, in hopes of attracting voters who don't usually go to the polls in mid-term elections like 2014 will be.

"I think they're hearing loud and clear from the people that this is a winning issue," said Watkins.

Fighting back, Republicans will argue that raising the minimum wage will hurt small businesses and people who need entry level jobs.