Well, the front page of Huffington Post seemed impressed yesterday:
The mayor of Seattle announced Thursday that he'd developed a plan for a $15 minimum wage that had wide backing from the city's lawmakers, labor leaders and business community.
The proposal unveiled by Mayor Ed Murray would gradually raise the city's minimum wage from $9.32 to $15 over the course of three to seven years, making it the highest city wage floor in the nation.
That headline up there? "Seattle Plans $15 Minimum Wage"? That is why labor is celebrating a win this week. All the nuance we're discussing here is important, but the overall plan, the headline version, is shockingly grand in a country where the federal minimum wage is still $7.25. And the fact that the headline exists at all, even if it's Seattle-specific, is thanks to a widespread movement. The movement—built by organizations and also many individual workers—has pushed hard to create a context in which a quick rise to a $15 minimum wage sounds like a reasonable goal here in Seattle and enjoys wide support. Because think about it: A year or two ago? A $15 minimum wage seemed kind of bonkers. This took a lot of work, and it will benefit tens of thousands of people here in Seattle, for sure—and then, if the trend continues, perhaps millions more across the nation.
The plan, which in many other cities might be seen as a liberal Democratic agenda at the frontier of social and economic engineering, was immediately attacked not from the mayor’s right, but from his left.
The LA Times compared it to the national minimum-wage fail this week:
A day after Republicans in the U.S. Senate quashed an effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a proposal Thursday for a $15 municipal minimum wage that he said would "improve the lives of workers who can barely afford to live" in this high-tech city on Puget Sound.
That hourly wage would effectively be the world’s highest government-set minimum rate in a major city, unless Switzerland adopts a $25 minimum wage in a referendum scheduled for later this month. While other economies have higher minimum wages in exchange-rate terms (Australia’s is roughly $16 an hour), when you take into account spending power, the highest current minimum wage is Luxembourg’s, at the equivalent of $13.35 an hour.
Here in Seattle, we're gonna get down in the weeds and analyze every little line of the graph and box of the chart and the math of inflation and the length of the phase-ins—and we should. We totally should, because we need to get this right. The broader movement has done such good work that we can barely pause to celebrate that headline, because we're moving on to the next phase. That's its own wonky win. But it's also nice to take a step back for a second and look at the bigger picture of success that this nerdy little Seattle-process deal represents.