May 28 2014

Minimum Wage Fight Goes Local With Seattle City Council Proposal

A new Associated Press study of CEO pay has found that for the first time, corporate executives’ annual compensations have surpassed the $10 million mark. The study comes just weeks after the National Employment Law Project found that the fastest growing sector of the post-recession job market was low-wage fast food jobs.

At a time when the US Congress cannot even raise the minimum wage, Seattle’s City Council has taken the unusual step of raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. While this certainly seems like a progressive victory, the devil is in the details. Seattle’s bill is so complex, that it is questionable whether workers will benefit immediately and directly. Seattle’s City Council boasts a prominent socialist member, Kshama Sawant, who won her seat on the promise of economic justice.

GUEST: Arun Gupta, an Independent Journalist and regular contributor to the Guardian, In These Times, The Progressive, and Truthout, and co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and the Indypendent. He’s a frequent contributor to this program.

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One Response to “Minimum Wage Fight Goes Local With Seattle City Council Proposal”

  1. Michaelon 29 May 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I think that it is important to include a bit more context in the last paragraph of this article. Kshama Sawant not only campaigned on the promise of economic justice, but has also been a driving force behind the 15 Now movement. This movement started the conversation surrounded the $15 minimum wage in Seattle, and Sawant’s election to city council is what spurred mayor Murray to take action on the matter. It is also important to note that although Sawant will vote for the $15 proposal put forth by the mayor’s committee (of which she is a member), since her election she has been advocating for a much more thorough and immediate $15 proposal. In fact, the 15 Now movement has filed it’s own charter amendment for a true $15 minimum wage in Seattle. This proposal eliminates all the loopholes included in the mayor’s proposal such as tip penalty and training wages, and it does not allow large employers to count things like health insurance or transportation subsidies toward the $15/hour wage. The 15 Now proposal also has a much shorter phase-in period (large companies of 250 employees or more begin paying $15 on January 1, 2015, and smaller businesses have three years to implement the wage hike) than what has been proposed by the mayor.

    All of this adds up to mean that the $15 minimum wage proposal being presented by the Seattle city government now, is an extremely watered down version of what the living-wage activists in that city have been fighting so hard to achieve. It is a proposal written heavily under the influence of large corporations such as Boeing, Amazon, and Starbucks, and in reality means that the workers of Seattle will not see a true $15/hour wage for a long time. For more information check out this article: http://15now.org/2014/05/15-now-launches-signature-gathering-to-put-15-on-the-ballot/

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