State senator and mayoral hopeful Ed Murray reemphasized his support for a $15 an hour minimum wage on Tuesday, releasing an "Economic Opportunity Agenda" (pdf) that promises a "phased-in approach" to reaching this goal in Seattle.
Implementation of a $15 dollar per hour minimum wage standard for City employees and contractors.
Move forward on achieving the goal of a $15/ hour wage for large scale industries like national big-box retail and fast food brands.
Implement thresholds and phasing options to avoid adverse effects to small businesses and restaurants, rewarding best practices and recognizing critical importance of local, neighborhood entrepreneurs. Consider higher wages for employers who offer no health care benefits.
Work with legislative partners at the regional and state levels to advance a higher minimum wage within a wider geography.
Sure, the details are a bit vague and the timeline nonexistent. It took Murray 17 years to deliver on gay marriage—a similar timeline would get Seattle a $15 an hour minimum wage just a couple years ahead of the state's inflation-indexed minimum wage (though the campaign assures me we're looking at a much shorter horizon). And there are a bunch of caveats that give me pause.
But enough of the nitpicking—it's the principle that counts, and Ed Murray, the frontrunner for mayor and the pick of all the "serious" people, has unequivocally endorsed a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle! Which makes it kinda weird to see these same "serious" people dismiss city council candidate Kshama Sawant as some kind of far-left wacko for, you know, making a $15 an hour minimum wage the centerpiece of her campaign.
Sawant, of course, has been running on a $15 an hour minimum wage since before it was cool. She ran on it last year during her surprisingly strong showing against House Speaker Frank Chopp in their 43rd legislative district race. And she's been running on it even harder since she announced her campaign for council. And now nearly everybody's endorsed it, including incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.
"He supports raising the minimum wage," McGinn campaign spokesman Aaron Pickus confirmed via email. "Ideally at the state or federal level, but if they don't move he would push for it in Seattle."
Of course, it's impossible to move on a higher minimum wage at the state level, because nearly everything is impossible at the state level. So at least on this issue, Murray's apparent go-local approach is preferable. But again: both candidates for mayor support, in principle, the same $15 an hour minimum wage agenda that Sawant has been leading on for over a year. And that says as much about her as it does about them.