All posts by 15 Now


San Francisco Could Be the Next to Win $15

Only weeks after the victory in Seattle, San Francisco has now become the next major city to announce a proposal for a $15 minimum wage.  With the backing of labor and the city supervisors, Mayor Lee announced the proposal which brings all workers to $15 by 2018, with no tip-penalty and no total compensation.

If it passes the vote in November, San Francisco will lead the country with the highest minimum wage in 2018, an immediate ripple effect the heroic walk-outs of fast-food workers across the nation and the grassroots victory in Seattle.

Building on the momentum of the Seattle movement, SEIU Local 1021 filed a ballot initiative for $15 back in April, in a move to pressure the political establishment and business to taken on San Francisco’s growing income inequality.

With median rents around $2,700/ month and 15% of the population living below the poverty line, the wealth gap in San Francisco is the fastest growing in the nation.  Cities across California are negotiating a rise in the minimum wage, with Oakland considering $12.50, San Diego $13, and L.A. $15 for hotel workers.  Richmond recently passed an increase to $13.

It was the threat of a strong $15 ballot initiative in Seattle which forced the Mayor and City Council to act so quickly.  If the major labor unions involved in the negotiations had backed the initiative like in San Francisco, as 15 now always argued, the corporate loopholes and long phase-in could have been prevented.   Stronger labor support for an initiative in Seattle would have been decisive in the balance of power between the movement on one side and business on the other.

But the battle is far from won in San Francisco.  Big Business has already indicated how displeased they are.  The head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Gwyneth Borden, said the deal was “an agreement between the mayor and labor. This is not what the business community has been talking about.”

If Seattle is an indication, business will fight tooth and nail to defeat or undermine the initiative in San Francisco.  In Seattle, 15 Now never relied on the politicians who weren’t clearly on the side of working people and opposed to big business interests.  The final vote in Seattle, showed, all but councilmember Sawant supported the big business loopholes in the end.

The victory in Seattle rested on organizing working people and mobilizing them into action building a powerful grassroots movement from below.  Winning $15 in San Francisco against the ferocious resistance of big business will require the same bottom-up effort.

Council member Sawant’s Speech at $15 minimum wage vote

Today, workers in Seattle have made history.

A half century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for a living wage at the March on Washington, where a quarter of a million people, mostly black workers, demanded their rights. They called for $2/hr. In today’s dollars it is the same number – Dr. King and his movement had launched the first fight for 15, at the same time they fought against the brutal racism of Jim Crow.

With this vote, Seattle will become the first major city in the U.S. to win a $15/hr minimum wage.

Our victory comes less than 6 months after the launch of 15 Now, after the election of the first socialist to the city council in 100 years. We built on the work of labor in Seatac, on the growing movement of the fast food workers which began in New York one year before. We worked alongside organized labor in Seattle, which campaigned continuously for 15.

We forced the city establishment to lift the wages 100,000 low wage workers in Seattle – to transfer $3 billion from business to workers at the bottom of the wage scale over the next 10 years.

We did this. Workers did this.

Today’s first major victory for 15 will inspire people all over the nation.

We need to recognize what happened here in Seattle that led us to this point.

15 was not won at the bargaining table as the so-called “sensible compromise” between workers and business. It was not the result of the generosity of corporations or their Democratic Party representatives in government.

What was voted on in the city council was a reflection of what workers won on the street over this last year.

In 15 Now, groups of workers and activists met weekly, held mass conferences and debates, organized rallies, and engaged thousands of people around the city about the need for a living wage. We won the public debate – in a recent poll 74% of voters now support 15. We defeated the arguments of business in the corporate media.

Let this be our guide. At every stage of the struggle, corporations and their representatives, have sought to undermine our efforts. And future victories will also depend on the organization of working people fighting for our interests.

This is also why we need an alternative to the two parties representing business. Despite the Democratic Party posing as a progressive alternative to the Republicans – we can see here in Seattle how it was only with the election of a socialist that the establishment was forced to pass real gains for workers. We need many more independent and socialist candidates to turn the tide against corporate politics.

Our victory is not complete, but we have fought until the last day, the last hour, against all the loopholes demanded by business.

We’ll come back to the questions of tip penalty, the long-phase in, the training wage.

What was lost through corporate loopholes is a reminder to us that outcomes are determined by the balance of forces. It is a reminder that we need to continue to build an even more powerful movement. A movement strong enough to overcome the counterattacks from business. A movement that goes on from 15 to win further gains to address the stunning income inequality workers face – that will fight for rent control, taxes on millionaires & big developers, and full funding for all public services.

I appeal to all workers to join the movement. The attempts of business to undermine 15 will continue, well after this vote today. They may submit legal challenges, they may challenge at the ballot, they may wait for their moment to make the “temporary” tip penalty permanent.

But today’s message is clear: If we organize as workers, with a socialist strategy, we can tackle the chasm of income inequality and social injustice.

15 in Seattle is just a beginning. We have a world to win.


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Seattle Wins $15

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Join 15 Now and Spread this Victory Across the Country

Seattle has now become the first major U.S. city to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage.  This historic achievement was the result of a powerful grassroots movement built from below.  The message is clear: When we organize we can win!

15 Now spearheaded the campaign in Seattle, and now we are building 15 Now nationwide. We spent $150,000 to win in Seattle.  To take this fight across the country we need to raise another $150,000. Please donate $15, or more, to help us end poverty wages.

Now is the time for you to get involved and help us spread the movement across the country. Get involved in a local 15 Now chapter or start a new one in your area today!


Friday June 6, doors open at 6:30pm

@ Washington Hall (153 14th Ave Seattle)

$15 entry (no one turned away)

15 Now in Seattle is a Model for Building Nationwide

It was a grassroots movement in Seattle that forced the political establishment to accept $15, The election of Socialist Alternative councilmember Kshama Sawant in 2013 and the launching of the 15 Now campaign in January 2014 were key factors in building this movement.

Even with some corporate loopholes in the deal – which could have been defeated with a stronger movement – the message is clear. We can take on big business and win!  In Seattle alone, raising the minimum wage to $15 will put an additional $3 billion into the pockets of low-wage workers over the next decade.

Now is the time to spread the movement nationwide.  Imagine what can be achieved across the country if 15 Now grows into a strong national organization of low-wage workers, unions, and community activists in a common struggle for a nationwide $15 minimum wage.

Get Involved, Support, Donate –

15 Now is a democratically run campaign that anyone can get involved in. We bring together labor activists, low-wage workers, social justice organizers and community members fighting for a living wage.

The victory in Seattle would not have been possible without the building of a mass campaign that included strikes, protest rallies, mass signature collections and flyering organized by local 15 Now action groups.

To build a nationwide campaign 15 Now needs your commitment, time and financial support.

What 15 Now can offer is an organization which everyone can get involved in and fully participate in the struggle. Join an existing 15 Now chapter or start your own 15 Now chapter if there is none in your city.  Get involved!

Final Council Vote: Close the Corporate Loopholes!

On Monday June 2nd, at 1 pm, rally at 4th and James with the many activists and organizations that have fought hard for a strong $15/hr minimum wage. The rally will precede the Council’s final meeting and vote. It is crucial to support this victory and fight to close the loopholes on this historic day.  We need to see this for what it is: a historic victory for workers.

The proposal isn’t perfect.  15 Now and 15 For Seattle coalition have signed onto an important letter below.  Join us Monday to tell the council to close the corporate loopholes: the sub-minimum wages, against any delays, and no phase-in for big business franchises.  

Dear Mayor Murray and Seattle City Councilmembers,

Thank you for your unanimous vote last Thursday to move forward with a $15 minimum wage in Seattle. When enacted by you as the full Council, this will provide an additional $3 billion in increased income over the next ten years in the pockets of more than 100,000 low-wage workers, and from them into the coffers of local businesses. This is an historic occasion.

However, as leaders in the movement for a $15 minimum wage with representatives on the Income Inequality Advisory Committee (IIAC), we are writing to express our strong opposition to the deviation from the IIAC agreement in two provisions of the version passed by the Select Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality on Thursday, May 29th.

The IIAC agreement represented a compromise between representatives of business and labor. Yet since that compromise was reached, amendments to the proposal have been disproportionately in favor of business and would undermine the minimum wage law.

First, Seattle’s low-wage workers are disappointed that they have to wait an additional three months for their raise, due to the delay of implementation of this ordinance to April 1, 2015. A delay from January to April is unnecessary and will be an additional hardship to the 100,000 workers who have struggled for too long to survive on poverty wages.

Second, the inclusion of a sub-minimum training wage in this proposal is well beyond the IIAC agreement. We — along with the majority of the people of Seattle — stand firmly against paying disabled workers, young workers, or immigrant workers lower than minimum wages.

We are also alarmed by discussion of moving large and wealthy non-profits into the delayed, “small” business category. This would mean thousands of Seattle workers would needlessly have to wait several more years before achieving $15. Workers in human services are some of the most self-sacrificing members of our community and face high levels of job stress. They deserve a living wage as soon as possible.

In fact, a number of local human services non-profits have stated their opposition to such a delay, as well, as it would create financial incentives for their workers to move to for-profit employers.

Finally, we also write to express our great concern regarding consideration of any possible amendment defining franchises of huge corporations, like McDonalds, as small businesses. Such an amendment, if passed, would greatly expand the number of workers in the longest phase-in periods and disproportionately affect fast food workers. We find this proposal completely unacceptable and a blow to the fast food workers who led the way in making $15 a reality.

Monday’s City Council meeting will have the final say on these issues. We strongly urge that the City Council pass a minimum wage ordinance that in no way weakens the IIAC agreement. Let’s make sure that Monday is a day of celebration for Seattle, as we take the lead nationally on the burning issue of income inequality.


15 for Seattle

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