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Monday, April 14, 2014

$15 Minimum Wage Movement Files Its Ballot Measure

Posted by on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 12:09 PM

This morning, 15 Now finally made good on a longtime threat to file their own minimum wage proposal as a city charter amendment. With King County Council member Larry Gossett and Sarah White, a local nurse practitioner and 15 Now activist, on hand, the group filed an amendment that has a dual purposes: (1) lighting a fire under the ass of slow-moving politicians, to get them to produce a minimum-wage proposal that 15 Now can support, and (2) showing they're ready to campaign for and pass their own proposal if the one that comes out of City Hall is too weak.

The contents of the proposal itself are also interesting, though not surprising: While 15 Now and city council member Kshama Sawant have talked about potential compromises to an immediate $15 wage hike, we now have details. This charter amendment would:

• Raise the minimum wage in Seattle for businesses with more than 250 full-time employees, or businesses that are part of a franchise, to $15 an hour starting on January 1, 2015
• Phase in that wage increase for nonprofits and non-franchise businesses with fewer than 250 full-time employees over the course of three years, starting at $11 in January 2015
• Adjust the city minimum wage annually by the same standard the state uses, the Consumer Price Index
• Strengthen wage-theft enforcement by establishing a private right of action for employees to take wage-theft claims directly to the courts, with a potential penalty of triple their damages (lost wages, tips, overtime, etc.) plus court costs
• Set up a community-based outreach and education program to alert employees, especially in low-wage sectors, of their rights

The campaign committee established to run this initiative is called Vote 15; their website is here. They actually filed four different proposals, a common practice to leave your options open; an alternate proposal would define small versus big businesses as under or over $15 million in gross revenue a year.

Once they get finalized ballot language in the next week or so, they'll be ready to start gathering signatures, which 15 Now organizer Phillip Locker says will begin at a big 15 Now conference on April 26. They'll need around 30,000 valid signatures to get a charter amendment on the ballot; Locker says the goal is at least 50,000.

He also says they'll leave open the possibility of not actually running a charter amendment or initiative at all. "We're practical people. We don't want to waste our time and energy on a November election if the city council will pass an adequate $15 minimum wage," says Locker. But it will have to get through city council by June if they're to convince 15 Now not to go ahead with the charter amendment, which Locker calls a "backup plan" and a "failsafe mechanism."

The mayor's committee is still meeting, through the end of April, to hash out their a compromise between business and labor interests. But word on the street is that the issue of total compensation—counting things like tips and health care toward an employer's minimum wage obligation—may bring the sides to a deadlock.

Another interesting thing: Now that there's an actual initiative happening, the ethics and elections rules governing this debate, as far as Council Member Sawant is concerned, will change dramatically. She and her city hall staffers had better be up to speed on where the lines are drawn.


Comments (12) RSS

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guerre 1
Broken link should be for, not….
Fantastic reporting though.
Posted by guerre on April 14, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
So there is only one thing for businesses to compromise on, they've gotten everything else they asked for. Will they compromise on this one thing or keep on accusing Sawant of an unwillingness to compromise?
Posted by peskypoop on April 14, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 5
Businesses haven't gotten SHIT. There is no reduction in the B&O tax for small business which Sawant promised during her campaign, and this increase is what they've been against from the very start.
But I'm happy this is going to a vote. Let the people decide. If they agree to a hike in the MW this high than Seattle obviously isn't the place for me and I'll move to Houston...I have YET to hear from one 15Now supporter how they will ever get Texas to go along with this. I would pay good money to see a socialist try to get elected in a Texas city.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 14, 2014 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Baconcat 7
@5: Houston pols strongly back a $15/hr wage and Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Al Green both came out in support of this wage AND the fast food protests. Their mayor (a lesbian) is closely aligned with social democrats (ie soft Marxists) and were it not for state law (which is not pragmatically pro-biz, but harshly conservative and also bans gay marriage, favors creation "science" in school and starves poor districts) the city would have implemented a higher wage years ago. You will also find similar lefty leanings in cities to the west and southwest like San Antonio, whose mayor is the son of a radical leftist Chicana activist.

You probably shouldn't move to Texas. They don't like know-nothing wannabes that can't even do research. Your smug and pouty flounce would entertain at the bars but you'll probably make a lot of enemies out of real Texas-born Texans, which Houston is full of.

Trust a Texan on this one.
Posted by Baconcat on April 14, 2014 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8

If you want some other reasons why Seattle isn't the place for you, I can suggest a few. Let me know, OK?

Also, you know we have a Live Free Or Die state, right? Not that you wouldn't love it in Houston. Either. Either one.

I only want you to be happy. Do you need bus fare?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on April 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 9


Don't listen to this crazy bacon person, Boswell. There's NO zoning in Houston. They love capitalism. And FREEDOM! Real freedom. They hate commies. There's no taxes and no minimum wage.

Cat bacon is lying to you about Texas because KARL MARX need I say more? No. NUFF SAID.

Do you need bus fare?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on April 14, 2014 at 4:07 PM · Report this
Call me Scott 10
@7 and @9, I'd like to be your pal.
Posted by Call me Scott on April 14, 2014 at 4:34 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 11
In other news: Seattle is run by right-wing hacks.

Are you crazy? Annise Parker is a CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRAT and is PRO-BUSINESS. Source:…

And Romney and Obama were nearly tied in Houston, so they are the furthest thing from a "liberal city." They're split down the middle with REAL political diversity. Source:…

I've read a lot of bullshit posters in the Stranger, but you take the cake, and that's saying a lot.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 14, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
seatackled 12
I've read a lot of bullshit posters in the Stranger

Turn off your webcam.
Posted by seatackled on April 14, 2014 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Hrm, 4 different versions of the initiative will make it difficult for businesses to know which plan they're compromising with, won't it ?
Posted by ChefJoe on April 14, 2014 at 6:16 PM · Report this
Democracy is like a delectable sauce, chef Joe, that takes three days to make. That may be to complicated for poor people to understand, but I'm sure a smart food cooking capitalist can eventually figure it out.
Posted by peskypoop on April 14, 2014 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Pesky Poop..Have you been getting democracy sauce all over your face!! As for business owners getting what they want? Why dont you ask business owners if they like the 15now proposition. I think you will end with a democracy sauce hangover.
Posted by A real live employer on April 15, 2014 at 1:10 PM · Report this

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