Boos, Hisses, and A $15-An-Hour Minimum-Wage Vote

In a meeting memorable for its boos and even hisses, the Seattle City Council Committee on Minimum Wage & Income Inequality this morning moved forward Mayor Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. In doing so, the Council added amendments slowing the wage-hike’s implementation by four months, from Jan. 1, 2015 to April 1, 2015, while beefing up enforcement provisions related to wage theft. The possibility for a “youth-wage” in Seattle was also created via an amendment that passed 4-3. The full-council will now vote on the ordinance next week. Given the 7-0 vote today, future results are expected to be similar.

While many are calling the development a victory, that’s not to say council chambers were full of warm fuzzies this morning. Shouts from the standing-room-only, sign-waving crowd inspired threats of removal from Councilmember Sally Clark at one point, and choruses of boos and hisses erupted on at least two occasions when Councilmember Kshama Sawant attempted to add pro-worker amendments to the ordinance that were ultimately voted down. Sawant sought to have a $15 an hour minimum wage take effect sooner for large businesses with over 500 employees, and also tried to remove tips from the wage calculation included in the ordinance; both efforts went down hard, 6-1.

The full council could vote by as early as next Monday, but don’t expect the debate to end anytime soon. As you may have heard, signatures are being gathered to put a more progressive measure on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage much faster. The future of that initiative moving forward now becomes a big question.

You can watch this morning's meeting below:

UPDATE: Not long after the vote, Mayor Murray released the following statement:

“I appreciate the good work of the City Council to make clarifications and technical fixes to our minimum wage legislation while keeping the overall framework of the deal we announced on May 1st intact.

“I want to thank the Council’s minimum wage committee for its unanimous vote, and I look forward to action from the full Council in the coming days.”

“Together, we are on the verge of making a huge economic difference for tens of thousands of Seattle workers at the same time that we are on the verge of making history.”

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