Seattle minimum wage increase to $15 per hour approved by the city council. The California city now boasts the highest minimum wage in the United States. Small business owners and fiscal conservatives are already registering their concern over possible layoff, unemployment increases, and customer price increases.
The minimum wage increase in Seattle has been a dominate political and economic topic in the prosperous municipality for several months. Labor activists were reportedly in wide attendance and city council meeting throughout the debate.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour during his successful election campaign last year. A recently elected council member who is a self-described socialist, helped push the measure through. “We did it. Workers did this. We need to continue to build an even more powerful movement,” freshman council member Kshama Sawant said after the increase was approved.
Councilman Tom Rasmussen also supported the Seattle minimum wage increase. “Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and address the widening gap between the rich and the poor,” he said.
The minimum wage increase will take effect on April 1, 2015. The plan to implement the highest per hour wage rate in the county will be phased in over several years. The Seattle law also reportedly offers a “slower process” for small businesses to come into compliance. The municipal resolution gives businesses with more than 500 workers on a national level three years to put the $15 per hour minimum wage in place. Businesses which offer health insurance to employees have been permitted an additional year to comply. Small businesses have a total of seven years to reach the new payment threshold.
The International Franchise Association plans to file a lawsuit to halt the Seattle minimum wage hike. A statement from the Washington, D.C.-based group said:
“The city council’s action today is unfair, discriminatory and a deliberate attempt to achieve a political agenda at the expense of small franchise business owners.”
Mayor Ed Murray selected an advisory group to review the minimum wage increase. The committee included representatives from the labor sector, business, and non-profits. Mayor Murray’s group spent four months working on a plan before presenting their findings in May.
The Seattle City Council delayed a the implementation by a few months and added a sub-minimum wage for teenagers. The addendum was reportedly opposed by labor union representatives. Restaurant owners largely oppose the $15 minimum wage stating that it will lead to decreased hiring, cut hours, and alterations to planned expansions.
Do you think the Seattle minimum wage increase to $15 will hurt or help the local economy?
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