The fight to increase the minimum wage has been waged for months now in cities across the United States. Today USA Today reports the Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote to decide whether the minimum wage in their city should be raised to $15 per hour. The vote, which is considered historic, would raise the minimum wage to the highest level for any city throughout the United States.
Right now Washington has the highest state minimum wage at $9.32, which is more than $2.00 above the federal minimum wage. Seattle’s plan, however, would not be implemented immediately but would instead allow the minimum wage to be raised over a three to seven year period. Regulations would differ based on the size of the business and benefits they provide employees. The raise would mean that a full-time worker could make as much as $31,000 a year.
An advisory group of labor, business and non-profit professionals have been working together to draft the ordinance, but it hasn’t been without some compromise and disagreement. So far the council has agreed to delay the implementation of their plan for several months. They also say there will be a “sub-minimum wage for teenagers.” Despite any disagreements, however, in the end every member of the City Council approved the wage hike, which increases the likelihood it will be implemented.
Unions consider move by Seattle a win for more than 100,000 workers
“A year ago, $15 was just a number on fast food strikers’ picket signs,” Working Washington, a coalition of labor and community groups, said in a statement issued Monday. “Today it’s set to become reality for 100,000 Seattle workers.”
Critics of the move note that this amount may be alright for a city like Seattle which some claim is robust enough to handle the increase, but there are many towns where the cost of living is much lower and businesses will not have the extra money to support such an aggressive move.
Why did Seattle make this move?
According to those who support the increase, the city’s actions were necessary because the federal and state governments have failed to address the growing income gap in cities throughout the nation. The goal of the ordinance is to allow as many people as possible to share in “Seattle’s prosperity” and “create a sustainable model for continued growth.”
Other supporters have argued the move should be done sooner and have started collecting signatures for a ballot measure to amend the city’s charter to create an immediate wage hike for large businesses.
What do the workers think?
Who doesn’t think they deserve more money for their work? Unfortunately, the increased price of hiring and paying workers is likely to be passed onto the customer. Many businesses have very little margin to pay extra money to workers. It’s likely we will simply see the price of goods and services increase to compensate the business owner for their costs of doing business, and that’s not going to be good for the worker.
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