Low-wage workers confront Councilmember Sawant

by: Essex Porter Updated:


We’ve seen thousands of people rally for a $15 -an-hour minimum wage in Seattle, but even that strong support is not universal. More than 100 students gathered at Seattle Central Community College, and more than a few of them are worried about their jobs if the minimum wage goes from $9.32 an hour to $15 an hour, a 63% increase.

 “You should have a decent living, at minimum, that's minimum wage," said one student at today’s forum organized by the Seattle Central Community College Advocacy Club. “I'm not down for it at the expense of people losing jobs," he said.

  “Point blank, I will lose my job if this $15-an-hour thing happens,” said restaurant server J. Boswell. Boswell was afraid to reveal where he works, but said he’s a server in a high-end restaurant where he makes $38,000 a year including tips.

 “The only people who benefit from this are a few big businesses; small businesses get destroyed by this,” he said.

 A Libertarian candidate for state representative, Chris Kelly, sees dangers. “We should really take a more informed look at the whole picture and really figure out who we have to sacrifice to make this if we do,” Kelly said.

 But King County Councilmember Larry Gossett believes it’s time to address the growing income inequality.

 “Very soon, the overwhelming number of our businesses will adapt to the minimum wage and figure out some way of paying all their workers that,” Gossett said.

 Seattle Central is where Socialist Kshama Sawant taught economics before she was elected to the Seattle City Council on a $15-an-hour platform.

Despite the costs, Councilmember Sawant remains steadfast. “Should we have a unified battle against big business, or show we fight amongst each other and fight for a few crumbs that we are getting today from the economy?”

Wednesday  the Seattle City Council is holding a big public hearing on the $15 minimum wage. The hearing is expected to draw such a large crowd that it will not be held at City Hall. Instead it will begin at 6 p.m. at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Avenue (at Seneca Street).