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.
Despite an ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign spending, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter coasted through the June primary election largely unscathed, finishing first by a 30-point margin and establishing himself as a strong favorite to hold the seat in November.
Coronado residents were divided Tuesday, during a City of Coronado council meeting over plans for an off-leash dog park.
An 83-year-old woman was killed Tuesday night after being hit by a motorcycle in the middle of Camino Ruiz in Mira Mesa, according to San Diego Police.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and his wife Margaret were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for allegedly using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including family vacations, dental bills, theater tickets and international travel for relatives.
Controversy continues over the signature gathering drives to overturn the City of San Diego’s new regulations on short-term vacation rentals.
San Diego State shared an updated look at the proposed SDSU Mission Valley plan on Tuesday. The new renderings show an SDSU innovation district with buildings for classes and student housing.
San Diego's average temperature of 76.8 degrees from July 1 to Aug. 20 is the hottest on record for that 51-day period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday.
A new development plan is stirring up controversy in North County. Homeowners say the project would negatively impact Oceanside's farming community and they want to make sure their voices are heard.
It is one thing to be good at your job, but it takes a higher level of dedication to use that job to help the community.