All posts by Bryan Watson


Seattle’s Steps to $15 Start April 1

Don’t be fooled, know your rights under the new wage law. En español aquí.

april wages

The wage is phased in over a 3-7 year period depending on the number of workers employed at the company or chain, and whether the employer offers healthcare benefits and/or tips.  See the chart below for the full wage schedule.  Click the image to enlarge.

Seattle wage law schedule

If you have questions or concerns, please call the Working Washington Hotline: 866-385-9509



Court rejects McDonald’s claim that they’re a small business

Join 15 Now, labor unions, and Councilmember Sawant on March 28 to let workers know they are getting a raise!

“The $15/hour minimum wage movement delivered a resounding one-two punch against right-wing opponents of 15,” began a triumphant Facebook post by Socialist Seattle City Coucilmember Kshama Sawant on Wednesday, March 18.

Sawant and 15 Now played an instrumental role in helping pass the historic minimum wage law in Seattle that goes into effect on April 1, giving a pay raise to more than 100,000 workers in the city, and eventually raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. With just a few weeks until the law goes into effect, big business is still resisting.

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Wal-Mart workers win wage increase!

In yet another victory for the fight against income inequality, Wal-Mart workers have just won a nationwide increase in wages. Congratulations to all workers and activists, including the OUR Wal-Mart campaign, who have tirelessly fought for and alongside Wal-Mart workers! This victory will further encourage workers and activists to continue the struggle for a full $15/hour minimum wage at Wal-Mart and beyond.

All Wal-Mart workers will make at least $9/hour by April this year, and $10/hour by February 2016. Wal-Mart’s department managers will be paid a minimum of $13/hour this year, and $15/hour next year.

This will represent a transfer of $1 billion to Wal-Mart workers. This is a huge victory for the working class. After decades of systematically demoralizing working conditions and union busting, this is a small measure of economic justice for the workers whose unceasing labor makes enormous profits every year for the multi-billionaire Walton family.

If it wasn’t for the movement – the strikes of Wal-Mart workers themselves, the fast-food strikes, the passage of the SeaTac initiative for $15, Seattle’s victory, 15 Now, and others – this would not have happened. This shows again, when we get organized and demand a change,  we can win. We need to keep organizing to ensure this new wage is enforced, that Wal-Mart ends its unfair scheduling practices, and that Wal-Mart is made to pay a minimum of $15 to all its workers.

MCDonalds 15

February 21st Day of Action: Fight McDonald’s Workplace Racism!

15 Now Stands in Solidarity with McDonald’s Workers Against Workplace Racism

Last month, a group of workers filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against McDonald’s, charing they were fired because managers felt the restaurant was “too dark” and wanted to “get the ghetto out of the store.”

The fight for a workplace rights and decent wages is linked to the fight against racial discrimination. Black workers are paid less, and are confronted with racism in the workplace.
15 Now calls for a nationwide day of action in solidarity with these workers on February 21st — the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination. Malcolm X taught us that we have the power to organize and fight back against systematic oppression. We will honor his legacy by supporting McDonald’s workers and protesting racism at one of the most criminal low-wage employers in the US.

We call on every chapter to plan actions — a picket, a die-in, or any creative action you can think of to call attention to the injustice workers of color face.

Please send us your photos, videos, or short reports to so we can post them widely and help spread the word that low workers all across the country are not only standing up and fighting for $15, but are part of the larger movement asserting #BlackLivesMatter.


Let’s make 2015 the year of $15

The confidence of workers is growing nationwide. With bold leadership, 2015 could be the year of $15/hour, the year when low-wage workers begin to turn the tide against corporate greed and widening wealth inequality.

But to turn our momentum into a mass movement, it’s going to take everyone pitching in, with both time and financial support. Can you donate $15 today to win $15 in 2015?

It was just one year ago, in January 2014, that 15 Now held its founding meeting in Seattle. Six months later Seattle became the first major city to pass a $15/hour minimum wage, with 15 Now widely recognized as the leading force behind the victory.

Seattle transformed the national debate over the minimum wage. From a radical slogan of fast food strikers, suddenly the demand for $15 became a mainstream idea.

San Francisco moved rapidly and passed an even stronger $15/hour minimum wage in November. Nearly half of Chicago’s 50-strong City Council joined the call for $15, prompting “Mayor 1%” Rham Emanuel to pass $13/hour, cutting across a movement for more. In Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Philadelphia, and other major cities, debates are raging over major hikes to the minimum wage.

15 Now is active in over 20 cities across the country and, with your financial help, we are well positioned to score fresh victories.

* In Oregon, $15 Now’s campaign for a statewide $15/hour minimum wage has won the support of 50 labor and community organizations, and 11 state legislators have co-sponsored a bill. 15 Now Portland, alongside Jobs with Justice, is leading a campaign for $15 for city contract workers that appears set to win a majority on the city council.

*  Workers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Airport formed a 15 Now chapter and gathered over 2,000 signatures from their co-workers for a petition demanding $15. When Delta fired a leading 15 Now organizer, over 200 workers and supporters shut down the road into MSP. With growing media attention and political support, the movement for “$15 and a Union” at MSP is stronger than ever.

* In Philadelphia, following months of demonstrations and growing media attention, 15 Now convinced the city council to hold a formal hearing this February to raise the city minimum wage to $15/hour. 15 Now plans to mobilize hundreds of workers, and is preparing by organizing a Low Wage Workers Summit in collaboration with SEIU’s fast food campaign.

* In Boston’s 10th Suffolk District, 15 Now put a resolution on the November 2014 ballot for $15/hour minimum wage, which won 63% of the vote.

These are just a few of the most exciting developments. Much more is planned. The main thing holding us back is our limited resources. We rely on small-scale donations and monthly sustainers to keep 15 Now moving forward.

Please do your part. Become a monthly sustainer of 15 Now or donate what you can today.

Thanks and solidarity,

Ty Moore
National Organizer for 15 Now


walmart (1)

Uniting Fight for $15 with Ferguson Fury

Ty Moore, 15 Now Organizing Director

For the tens of thousands demanding justice for Mike Brown and Eric Garner, the connection between economic injustice and state violence couldn’t be clearer. Just a few miles from where police murdered Eric Garner, a low-income black man selling loosey cigarettes to scrape out a living, the white collar criminals on Wall Street remain free to continue their corrupt, illegal financial schemes.

The new movement against police racism, born in Ferguson following the police murder of Mike Brown, has flowered into the most significant popular revolt since Occupy Wall Street. Tens of thousands are searching for a way to take the momentum forward. A potential strategy emerged when the week of action for “$15 and a Union” coincided with the national surge of protests against the lack of indictments for the police who killed Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

Protests and Strikes in 200 Cities

It was only two years ago, in December 2012, when the slogan “$15 and a union” debuted with the first fast food strike in New York City, organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The slogan was greeted with enthusiasm by workers and young people radicalized by Occupy Wall Street’s critique of inequality and corporate corruption.

Politicians and mainstream media ridiculed the idea of raising up minimum wage workers to $15/hr as completely unrealistic. Even SEIU at first limited the slogan to fast food, rather than bringing $15/hr firmly into the national debate on the minimum wage.

How much has changed. With the victories for $15/hr in Seattle and then San Francisco, combined with escalating strikes and actions by low-wage workers, $15 has gone mainstream. Much like the 8-hour day galvanized labor in a previous era of robber barons, so too has $15/hour emerged as a rallying cry for today’s vast, multi-racial army of low-wage workers.

Mostly organized by SEIU, alongside OUR Wal-Mart and numerous local coalition partners, workers came onto the streets in nearly 200 cities during the national week of action between Black Friday and and December 4th. At Wal-Marts, McDonalds, airports, and government buildings, these were the biggest actions yet for “$15 and a union.”

Most of the strikes drew only small numbers of workers to join rallies with community supporters. Yet the potential for this developing into a mass campaign was never clearer, especially where youthful #BlackLivesMatter protests merged together with low-wage worker strikes.

Connecting to #BlackLivesMatter

Across the country, the youthful protests against police racism openly expressed their solidarity with the fight for $15. The widespread mood to #ShutItDown, most reflected in highway takeovers, found even sharper expression in marches through Wal-Marts and shopping malls, where chants and speeches often made the connections between economic inequality and police racism.

Photo: Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

There is widespread understanding that racism is structurally embedded into the economy and political life of American capitalism. For a movement against racist police violence to be sustainable, demands for community control over police must be combined with economic demands that address mass unemployment, low-wages, and underfunded services in communities of color. Demands for living wage jobs and quality public services can also unite wider numbers of workers in the struggle for racial equity. Alongside demands for full employment, affordable housing, and quality services, the fight for $15 offers a clear path forward, especially given the concentration of people of color into low-wage jobs.

In this context, SEIU and other union leaders are missing a major opportunity to extend the fight for $15 into a mass struggle with deep roots in communities of color. In a few cities, more far-thinking SEIU locals and Our Wal-Mart made efforts to openly link up the fight for $15 with the Ferguson-inspired protests, but unfortunately this was the exception.

The potential exists to further transform the national conversation, educating millions of workers that solidarity against racism is crucial if we are to build a broad, multi-racial mass movement capable of overcoming corporate domination of our economy. If union leaders fail to mobilize their resources to offer active solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter protests, and extend a serious invitation to fight together for $15, this window of opportunity could pass.

The Democratic Party’s Role

Unfortunately, the union leaders’ ties to the Democratic Party at the national and local level – where Democratic mayors oversee racist police policies in most major cities – undermine their ability to win the trust of youthful protesters. These same Democratic Party leaders have played a generally conservative role in the fight for $15. They sometimes offer solidarity in words to fast food workers protesting McDonalds, but fail to champion $15 where they have the power to act at the city, state, and federal level.

During the Ferguson protests especially, the Governor and other Democratic Party politicians who intervened did so mainly to quell the protests, either through supporting police repression or demanding protesters clear the streets to restore “peace.”

So it is understandable that many youthful #BlackLivesMatter protesters are afraid that partnering with politicians and union leaders risks co-optation. Some will remember that during the Occupy movement in 2011, SEIU’s president Mary Kay Henry orchestrated a joint national day of action with Occupy Wall Street leaders, only to use the event to offer SEIU’s high profile early endorsement of Obama, calling him the “President of the 99%” to the outrage of most Occupy activists.

There is mass popular anger at income inequality, racism, sexism, environmental destruction, and the corporate corruption of both major political parties. Polls show half of all young people have a negative view of capitalism, and anti-capitalist consciousness is highest in Black communities. The same youthful, combative, and radical mood expressed in the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011 are present today in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with the crucial difference that today’s movement is bringing a more oppressed, working class section of youth to the forefront.

However, like Occupy before, the new movement against police racism will quickly face tough decisions. Endless protests and highway takeovers, if not connected to a clearly understood strategy to win tangible victories, will eventually exhaust the movement. A section of activists will be co-opted into the well funded non-profits and Democratic Party aligned efforts pushing for small-scale reforms.

Limiting our demands to band-aid reforms like police cameras or slowing the flow of military weaponry to local police, while positive, won’t be enough to inspire the kind of mass movement needed. There is a burning desire to see fundamental changes. Yet many liberal leaders make the mistake of limiting demands to what they believe the current system, the current government, can “realistically” deliver.

This so-called “realistic” approach fails in two ways. It fails because, as Malcolm X famously explained, “you can’t have capitalism without racism,” which means there is no way to meet the expectations of the movement for fundamental change without challenging the whole rotten system.

body cams not enough

The liberal approach of limiting our demands to small-scale reforms also fails because it undermines our strength to even win those small reforms! Mass movements are the only power that can win meaningful reforms for working people, but to inspire the level of energy and self-sacrifice needed to sustain mass struggle, activists need confidence that fundamental changes are within reach. How can this confidence be built when our fighting demands remain limited to what this rotten capitalist system and deeply corrupted two-party political system is prepared to deliver? Historically, all the most significant reforms within capitalism have been won when the ruling class is threatened with widening revolutionary consciousness.

In contrast to liberal leaders, socialists urge movements to link up demands around immediate small-scale reforms with bigger transformative demands that offer a vision of fundamental change. The young people demanding justice for Mike Brown and Eric Garner have made clear they want to live in a society free from racist police policies, free from poverty, from unequal jobs, unequal housing, unequal education, etc.

From #ShutItDown to #15Now

The movement will be strongest if, alongside demands for police accountability, outrage at the racism embedded in the capitalist economy can be mobilized into combative, grassroots campaigns for a $15/hour minimum wage, union rights, jobs for all, affordable housing, and taxing the rich to fund education and other basic services.

By linking up the fight against racism with the wider aspirations of the multi-racial US working class, the #BlackLivesMatter movement could win over far wider numbers of workers and youth into active struggle against racism. The momentum already built up behind the fight for $15/hour minimum wage and low-wage worker organizing offers a natural starting point, especially after the organic connections made during the Black Friday week of action. However, this will only be successful if the idea takes hold among the leading activists of the #BlackLivesMatters movement, if they take independent initiatives reflecting the radicalism of the youth, rather than initiatives imposed from without.

15 Now was launched in early 2014 to create space for a broad grassroots movement for $15 to develop, independent of the Democratic Party and the more conservative union leaders. Across the country, 15 Now works as closely as possible with SEIU and other forces involved in the fight for $15, while always maintaining an independent approach based on the perspectives of building a broad-based, bottom-up mass campaign for $15/hr, fighting in our workplaces and for raising the minimum wage.

Members of Show Me $15 in North St. Louis (Credit: David Nehrt-Flores)

To win a $15/hour minimum wage nationally, and other transformative demands for millions living in poverty, its going to take a truly mass movement imbued with the same spirit of resistance we’ve seen on display since Mike Brown and Eric Garner were murdered. New independent grassroots organizations with deep roots in communities of color will be needed.

15 Now should aim to be a part of this process. Already in Seattle, this grassroots approach was key to winning a $15/hour minimum wage. We tapped into the occupy-inspired indignation at inequality and built a multi-racial grassroots campaign that took a combative, uncompromising approach toward Seattle’s political establishment. Strong 15 Now campaigns have also been built in several more cities, from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, where we have established an impressive base of support among workers, community activists, and within the trade unions. Let’s surge forward toward mass campaigns for $15 in 2015!


Important development: Philadelphia City Council Looks at $15/hour Minimum Wage

By Kate Goodman, 15 Now Philly

On Thursday, December 11th, during the last 2014 session of the Philadelphia City Council, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a resolution that would authorize a hearing on the $15 an hour minimum wage in Philadelphia. Over 30 members of 15 Now Philly attended the session and cheered loudly as Councilman Johnson a introduced the hearing resolution. Two low-wage workers, Justin Murden, who works in a Center City bar and as a security guard at one of Philadelphia’s sports stadiums, and Sarah Giskin, a Temple student working two low wage service sector jobs, testified to demonstrate Philadelphia’s need for an immediate raise in the minimum wage.

The resolution was approved unanimously by City Council. The hearing will be held mid-February in front of the Committee of Commerce & Economic Development. 15 Now Philly is working with Johnson’s office to set an exact date.

Councilman Johnson’s office and 15 Now Philly are working together to gather low wage workers and workers’ rights organizations, policy experts, business owners, respected economists and local government law experts to testify in front of council to demonstrate the merit and the legality of raising Philadelphia’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Before the hearing, 15 Now Philly will be working to secure support from more City Council members and doing grassroots organizing to pack the hearings.

Pennsylvania has a so-called preemption law that is widely interpreted as banning cities from raising the minimum wage above state levels, which is $7.25 in Pennsylvania. However, 15 Now and legal allies are challenging that interpretation and building political pressure to assert Philadelphia’s right to act on behalf of low-wage workers.

15 Now Philly and allied low wage worker groups were already planning to hold Philadelphia’s 1st ever Low Wage Worker Summit on  Saturday, January 17th. Restaurant workers, airport workers, fast food workers, adjunct professors, taxi drivers, and healthcare workers are expected to attend to strategize about Philly’s upcoming elections and plan for a year of worker victories, including the $15 minimum wage, during 2015.


$15 Wins in Roxbury, Boston

On Tuesday, November 4th , the fight for a living wage won a number of resounding victories nationwide. In Massachusetts, residents of Boston’s 10th Suffolk district voted ‘yes’ on Question 5, an advisory question supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage. With a 63% majority, working people have voted to take back the city they can no longer afford. With Boston’s cost of living on a constant and steep incline, the city’s $8 an hour minimum wage is becoming less and less livable – and Tuesday’s victory proves that working people have had enough.

15 Now spent the past few months in the 10th Suffolk district’s West Roxbury neighborhood rallying support for not only the upcoming advisory question, but for the fair treatment of workers statewide. 15 Now activists went door-to-door discussing the implications of an increased minimum wage with West Roxbury residents. We held speak outs and public meetings, and worked to dispel myths about the negative repercussions of a wage increase. Our consistent, and tireless work paid off when Question 5 was passed by an overwhelming majority.

The passage of this advisory question will serve as an essential moment for working people in Boston. The city’s cost of living has increased since we began campaigning for Question 5, making a higher minimum wage more essential than ever. Residents of West Roxbury’s call for a $15 an hour minimum wage will serve as a rallying cry citywide that working people deserve more from their employers and from their city. The working people  of Boston deserve better than the poverty wages being leveled against them, and we hope that the momentum created by Question 5’s passage will inspire workers  throughout the city.

The victory in Boston this Tuesday serves as evidence that when working people mobilize, motivate, and support one another – legitimate, systemic change can be made. The residents of the 10th Suffolk district have unified to demand fair, equal treatment from their legislators and their employers. This victory, in combination with the minimum wage victories in 17 states and in particular San Francisco and Oakland passing $15serve as incredible proof that working people are fighting back, taking back their cities, and demanding change. Continue to support 15 Now and we can take these successes nationwide.




Photo by @BrandiKruse
In November 2013 in SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, a majority of voters passed Proposition 1 establishing a minimum wage of $15/hour for airport related workers.  Alaska Airlines and other corporations have strongly resisted implementing the democratic decision of the voters. Socialist Alternative Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant issued this statement after she was arrested yesterday defending SeaTac airport workers’ right to a $15/hour minimum wage.

“It was the courage of SeaTac workers and their victory at the ballot that made $15/hour possible in Seattle. I’m proud to stand with them today against Alaska Airlines’ attempted robbery. First, Alaska Airlines said the City of SeaTac doesn’t have the right to enforce $15/hour for airport workers; only the Port does. Now Alaska Airlines is leading the charge on a federal lawsuit claiming the Port has no authority to raise wages. Which is it? What’s clear is they’d rather spend millions trying to overturn democracy than pay low-wage workers what they’ve earned.”

Media Coverage

Seattle Times: Sawant among 4 arrested in Sea-Tac minimum wage protest

The Stranger: Council Member Kshama Sawant and Three Others Arrested in SeaTac While Protesting Minimum Wage Lawsuit

King 5:  Seattle councilmember Sawant arrested in minimum wage protest

My Northwest: Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant arrested at SeaTac protest

Huffington Post: Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant Arrested While Protesting Airline Workers’ Wages

Working Washington: Four Arrested Outside Alaska Airlines HQ in SeaTac After 100 Protest the Company’s $15 Robbery

Reuters: Seattle city council member arrested in wage-hike protest

CBS Seattle: Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant Arrested At Protest In SeaTac

Common Dreams: Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant Among Those Arrested at Minimum Wage Protest

Daily Kos: Seattle’s Socialist City Council member arrested at SeaTac Airport Minimum Wage protest

Highline Times: Seattle’s Socialist City Council member arrested at SeaTac Airport Minimum Wage protest

Komo News: Seattle city councilmember Sawant arrested during protest

Publicola: Councilmember Kshama Sawant Arrested

Puget Sound Business Journal: Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant arrested at Alaska Airlines protest

Q13: Seattle City Council’s Sawant, 3 others arrested at protest over lawsuit to block $15 wage

“As she was led away in cuffs, I asked Councilwoman Sawant what the mayor was going to say about this. “Why don’t you ask him!” she laughed.” / “As she was led away in cuffs, I asked Councilwoman Sawant what the mayor was going to say about this. “Why don’t you ask him!” she laughed.” @BrandiKruse

“@cmkshama just got out of jail, told me with what airlines are doing, they should be the ones behind bars.” @NatashaKIRO7