by: Essex Porter Updated:SEATTLE —
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today issued his first executive order -- he wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for city employees. Murray says the higher wage would affect roughly 600 people who work for the city. And it comes as he works to implement a $15 an hour minimum wage for private businesses citywide.
"I believe I need to set an example and the city needs to set an example if we're asking others to make some adjustment," Murray said at his first news conference after taking office on New Year's Day.
Even a small raise sounds good to Tyler Pendleton, who earns $14.20 an hour working at the Seattle Center, "Just extra gas money to see my parents, help out the family a bit. It'd be nice."
A $15 an hour minimum wage equals a salary of $31,200 a year. The mayor's order would cover 600-700 city employees who don't already make $15 or more. The preliminary cost estimate is $700,000. Mayor Murray believes the city can absorb the cost without raising taxes or fees.
Porter Bridge/13:09:00/Mayor Murray's Plan has implications beyond just city employees, because he's pushing to raise the minimum wage for everyone city wide.
Newly elected Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant supports the mayor's initiative, but sees it as just the beginning of the effort to establish a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage for everyone in the city. "The fact that the mayor has announced this effort for $15 an hour for city employees is a definite step forward," said Sawant after rehearsing for Monday's inauguration ceremony. "It really bolsters everybody's confidence in saying that while the city employees are being talked about, let's talk about the contract workers the city hires, let's talk about fast food workers, child care workers. Why stop with one small group of people?" she said.
Murray his directed his staff to talk the city's labor unions, and bring him a plan by spring.