San Francisco minimum wage plan would get to $15 before Seattle

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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SEATTLE —

People involved in forming Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s $15-an-hour plan said they had been expecting San Francisco to follow suit. 

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proposed a plan this week that would have all businesses, large and small, pay workers $15 an hour by July 2018. 

In comparison, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s plan, created by a coalition of business and labor leaders, calls for a seven-year phase in. 

Those who worked on that plan said they are excited to see San Francisco move forward with their own initiative. 

“I won't say it drove our calendar or our agenda, but we were aware it was out there and that San Francisco wanted to get as deeply or more involved than Seattle,” said Howard Wright, the co-chair of the mayor’s income inequality advisory committee. 

The committee’s other co-chair was David Rolf, the president of SEIU Local 775. 

An SEIU spokesperson told KIRO 7 they’re very excited and not surprised that San Francisco has proposed lifting wages to $15 an hour. 

He said they expect other cities around the country will follow by doing what’s best for labor, business and elected officials in those communities. 

Lee’s plan will now go before the San Francisco City Council, which can put the measure on the ballot in November. If voters approve, San Francisco will see workers paid $15 an hour across the board about three years sooner than in Seattle. 

The median rent in San Francisco is currently $3,600 a month, while the median rent in Seattle is $1,700 a month. 

“We could have pushed the process a little harder. We could have built more support for that. But I think we just take what happened in Seattle as a victory and as a basis for moving forward for building on this basis for other cities,” said Jess Spear, organizing director for 15Now, the grassroots organization that campaigned for a $15 minimum wage. 

Spear is now running for state House District 43 against Speaker Frank Chopp. She said she hopes to bring a $15-an-hour wage throughout Washington state.