Seattle mayor: $15 minimum wage for city workers

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

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Mayor Ed Murray has plans to raise the minimum wage for City of Seattle employees to $15 per hour.

Murray discussed the effort Friday morning at City Hall.

“Our city is becoming an unaffordable city for too many middle-class families, artists, students, young people, service-industry workers, immigrants new to the country,” Murray said last month. “Seattle really is on the cusp of falling beyond the financial reach of too many of those who give our city its diverse character – of the very people who make this city run.”

In December, Murray created a task force of business and labor leaders who were to come up with a plan within four months of how to raise the city’s minimum wage.

The effort to raise the minimum wage effort has gained momentum in the Northwest. 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. The fight here has sparked a national battle over the minimum wage with some Democrats planning to use the issue to win in the 2014 elections.

Murray says he wants a recommendation on how to address the minimum wage, preferably a consensus, within four months so he can send a proposal to the City Council by the end of July. He acknowledges the panel might come up with majority and minority reports.

Labor leader David Rolf, president of SEIU 77NW, is co-chair of Murray’s panel with Howard S. Wright III, CEO of Seattle Hospitality Group.

Murray also wants to avoid a vote.

But a ballot measure is possible because Sawant says she'll start gathering signatures if city leaders don't quickly pass a $15 per hour minimum wage.

"My commitment is unwavering and unshakable on getting $15 an hour and making progress on making Seattle an affordable city," Sawant said last month.

Murray invited Sawant to join his panel, two days after she held her own news conference calling 2014 the year of the $15 minimum wage.

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