SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation.
The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well.
"This legislation sends a message heard around the world: Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and that we deplore the growth in income inequality and the widening gap between the rich and the poor," Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said.
The measure, which would take effect on April 1, 2015, includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.
The plan includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.
The ordinance came from recommendations made by an advisory group of labor, business and nonprofit representatives convened by Murray. After more than four months of discussion, the group presented its plan last month. Last week the Council delayed implementation by the few months and approved a sub-minimum wage for teenagers, a provision opposed by labor representatives.
Although some local businesses have come out in support of the measure, a group of restaurant owners oppose it, saying it would force them to scuttle expansion plans, decrease hiring and possibly cut service hours.
Nick Musser, executive chef and general manager of the Icon Grill in downtown Seattle, doesn't think the wage credit for tips should phase out after 7 years and finds the differentiation between large and big companies irrelevant.
"The reality is that the larger companies are going to ratchet up their wages and we're going to have to play at that level anyway," said Musser, whose restaurant employs between 50 and 60 people, depending on the time of year. Most of them are paid minimum wage.
Ubah Aden, 40, a Seattle home health worker who says she now earns $10.95 an hour, is looking forward to the way a higher wage will help her support her three children. But she also likes the idea of Seattle setting an example for the rest of the nation.
"If this passes, then it will pave the way for other cities and states. I really think so" Aden said.
She said she and her three kids are living with her brother because she can't afford an apartment of her own even though she works full time. "This will make changes to myself and also a lot of other people in my shoes."
San Francisco currently has the nation's highest hourly minimum wage at $10.74.
The current minimum wage in Washington state is $9.32 an hour.
Earlier this year Minnesota raised the state's guaranteed wage by more than $3, to $9.50, by 2016. California, Connecticut and Maryland also have passed laws increasing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The Kia Classic is back for the 9th year; this is the 6th year the tournament will be played at Aviara Golf Club.
An increased police presence is expected Wednesday at Serra High after a threatening message was written on a school wall.
Mexican Federal Police make a shocking discovery at the Tijuana Airport overnight. They were searching for drugs, when they found a tiger and black panther cub.
A Pacific storm that promises to heavily douse much of Southern California this week will deliver a considerably less dramatic infusion of precipitation in the San Diego area, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service is predicting rain around San Diego County this week, potentially heavy rain on Thursday. People in unincorporated areas can get free sandbags at numerous locations to help them protect their homes, properties and communities.
A Mexican woman in the U.S. illegally who was dragged away from her daughters by authorities in a widely viewed video was being released on her own recognizance Tuesday by an immigration judge in Southern California.
After a nearly three-hour public hearing, the City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to approve a facility that would allow homeless people to store their valuables.
Kevin Towers, the former San Diego Padres player, scout and executive, will be posthumously inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony on May 12, the team announced Tuesday.
A flamingo that mysteriously appeared in the South Bay last month - like most people - seems to not want to leave San Diego.