Campaign seeks to push Seattle minimum wage to $15


KOMO News: Washington already has the nation’s highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. Now, there’s a push in Seattle, at least, to make it $15.

That would mean fast food workers, retail clerks, baristas and other minimum wage workers would get what protesters demanded when they shut down a handful of city restaurants in May and others called for when they demonstrated nationwide in July.

So far, the City Council and mayoral candidates have said they’d consider it in the famously liberal city. One said, however, that it may not be soon.

Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer said there’s no time to waste. What the nation needs is money in the hands of regular consumers. “A higher minimum wage is a very simple and elegant solution to the death spiral of falling demand that is the signature feature of our economy,” he said.

Some businesses advocates say a higher minimum wage will make it harder for companies in Seattle to survive. They cite Wal-Mart, which has all but refused to accept a Washington, D.C., decision to raise the minimum wage to $12.50 an hour in big box stores.

A higher minimum wage eliminates low wage jobs because that’s how small businesses cut costs and that ends up hurting the people it was supposed to benefit, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Fast food and retail workers, meanwhile, are calling for a nationwide strike on Aug. 29 to push for $15 an hour.

More than 15 million workers earn the national minimum wage, making about $15,080 a year – $50 below the federal poverty line for a family of two. San Francisco currently has the highest minimum wage for all workers at $10.50 an hour.

Economist Chris Benner of the University of California at Davis does not agree that a higher minimum wage would lead to job losses.

There may be some job impact in those small businesses themselves,” he said. But in the entire economy, when you increase income to low-wage workers, it creates jobs because those workers are likely to spend their additional income and that increases demand for goods and services.

Benner also doubts a higher minimum wage would affect prices enough to scare away consumers. His research has shown that even a large increase in wages, like the proposal in Seattle, has only a 4 to 5 percent effect on prices.

One of those affected by a potential wage increase is Caroline Durocher, 21, who has been working low-wage jobs since high school. She has been working at a Seattle Subway restaurant for about a month, since she was fired by another chain shortly after participating in the minimum wage strike.

“I have co-workers who are single moms. I honestly don’t know how they make it,” said Durocher, who sleeps on her father’s couch.

City Council member Nick Licata doesn’t expect the issue to get any official traction soon. One of the council’s most liberal members, he said there are other issues the council should tackle to help low-wage workers, including wage theft and affordable housing. Pushing it forward before it can actually pass would kill he idea, he said.

One Seattle City council candidate has made the topic the centerpiece of her campaign.

Economist Kshama Sawant is basing her campaign on similar efforts in New York City and Washington, D.C. While saying her chances of getting elected are not great, she is pushing the rise in the minimum wage and said she is hearing about it on the campaign trail.

An alternative, yet politically mighty, weekly newspaper, the Stranger, has endorsed her idea. “We’re getting a huge echo for the idea,” she said.

Well hey, why stop at $15/hour…why not $20 or $25?




7 responses to “Campaign seeks to push Seattle minimum wage to $15

  1. Actually, this could be a good thing. All the people on welfare and section 8 could move there and get jobs in fast food restaurants, and all the gun-toting criminals in places like Chicago could follow them since the city will be filled with gun-free businesses. They we could build a wall around the city, and voila! It’ll be Escape From Seattle!


  2. It would take away my appetite to know that the guy flipping the burgers was making more than me! Talk about insane – what happened to working one’s way UP the ladder and really earning $$$. What the he**!!


  3. All I can say is . . . it’s an embarrassment to live in a state which boarders Washington. I swear that liberal stuff floats down here to Oregon. Those of us who are on fixed incomes would feel the harsh reality of the upward inflationary spiral–guess we’d have to give up going out to eat once in a while. Many decry the plight of the single mother; the question should be, why didn’t she get a better education before she went into creating a family, so that she is able to provide for herself and her children in a comfortable manner. The most important person in the family to educate is the Mother, that education flows downward onto her children, and she is (hopefully) protected from the tedious task of working minimum wage jobs.


  4. If i was the owner of one of the businesses that thes folks called a strike at, you can be sure they’d get the Ronald Reagan Air Traffic Controller treatment. There are pleanty of folks looking for work that’ll take what they can get. Good grief, these are entry level jobs, not a carreer. I’m sorry to say that I am partly responsable for the current level of un-employement. I’m retired and I have 4 part time jobs.


  5. When minimum wage is raised, the price of everything goes up in order to cover payrolls. That is a fact. In other words, $15.00/hr would equal $7.25/hr.


  6. Golly, where did the jobs go?


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