Councilmember Kshama Sawant testified today at the Washington State House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. Below we publish the transcript from her testimony.
Thank you to the committee for this opportunity to testify today.
I felt compelled to come down here when, last week, Representative Manweller announced, “It’s not this body’s job to out-Kshama Kshama Sawant.”
I disagree, that is your job. And I ought to know.
Spreading the movement to raise the minimum wage from the city to the state level is crucial.
Too long workers have been told we are powerless to stop the race to the bottom. We are told that if we fight for higher wages – or sick leave, or environmental protections – that businesses will retaliate by moving to a different part of the state or the world where they can pay less to workers.
The only way to reverse the race to the bottom is solidarity among working people statewide, nationally, and globally.
As we speak, 15Now.org, labor unions and social justice organizations are building a powerful movement to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15/hour. Our efforts in Seattle will be strengthened if the wage is raised statewide, so that anywhere a business goes, they will be expected to pay a living wage.
$12/hour by 2017 will not be enough to raise hard-working Washingtonians out of poverty. But every step towards increasing the minimum wage is critical. I am here today to urge you to pass this bill, and also to suggest you amend it to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour this year.
Lastly, I want to give the State House fair warning: Low wage workers are no longer passively standing by while our living standards erode. If this body does not act to dramatically correct the unaffordability of Washington State in all of your districts, then we will. Fast food workers, child care workers, Walmart workers, Farm workers, Hotel workers, Boeing workers – all will act to raise the minimum wage, remove restrictions on rent control, and reverse the regressive tax in this state so big business and the super-rich pay, not workers and small businesses.
15 Now is building chapters in every one of your districts, and if you don’t act, we will!