On Saturday 750 people gathered and marched through the streets of Seattle boldly calling for $15 an hour minimum wage as part of a national day of action to March for $15 on March 15. Low-wage workers, union members and 15 Now activists joined together for this energetic event which was received with overwhelming support from onlookers in their cars and in their apartments windows as well as workers coming out of shops to cheer on the march.
A rally at the end of the march at Seattle Central Community college included low-wage workers speaking as well as union members, 15 Now organizers and Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Sawant gave an electrifying speech which included a clear policy proposal to Mayor Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee which Sawant sits on.
15 Now Organizing Director Jess Spear said, “we fully support Councilmember Sawant and the proposal she put forward at Saturday’s event. Sawant made it clear that working people need a real $15 an hour minimum wage and rejects any proposal which includes a tip credit or total compensation, which would fundamentally undermine $15 an hour as a real minimum wage.”
“Murray claims he is concerned that small business would need a phase-in. 15 Now has always said that it’s big business which is squeezing small business. We welcome Sawant’s proposal to the advisory committee for a $15/hour minimum wage for all employees at big business starting January 1, 2015, and a three year phase-in for small business. This proposal would make it crystal clear that big business cannot be allowed to hide behind the real concerns of small business,” said Spear.
Sawant’s proposal would provide that all workers would see a raise immediately with workers at small businesses starting at $11 on January 1st, and stepping up each year for 3 years until all workers are at $15, with a yearly cost of living adjustment.
“15 Now supports Sawant’s proposal, which will help to advance discussion on the Mayor’s advisory committee.” Spear said. 15 Now will continue to campaign for raising taxes on big business to subsidize small business who really cannot afford to pay 15 immediately, a proposal Sawant also said she would continue to fight for.
“15 Now stands with Sawant on the plan to fall back on the safety net of a ballot initiative if the process on the advisory committee and the City Council falls short of what working people need,” said Spear, “and on April 26, 15 Now will hold a conference to launch a signature gathering campaign should a ballot initiative be necessary.“