Kshama Sawant responds to Mayor’s proposal for 15

CM Sawant Response to Mayor’s May 1 Proposal for $15

The fact that the City Council of a major city in the US will discuss in the coming weeks raising the minimum wage to 15 is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice. The movement, starting with fast food workers nationwide, and pushed forward by SeaTac and 15 Now, is forcing business and the political establishment to accept raising our wages.

The proposal that has been announced is a result of the pressure from this movement. Unfortunately, it also reflects the attempt of business to water down what the working people of Seattle want. While business has lost the public battle on 15, they were given a seat at the table to pursue their wish list, while low-wage workers were left out.

That is why our work is far from done. The most important task now is to build our movement, 15 Now, in order to put pressure on City Council.

Let’s look at the proposal announced:

the 4 year phase in for big business
11 year delay
tip credit
health care deductions

I don’t support phasing-in for big business. McDonalds and Starbucks have no justification for keeping their workers in poverty for a day longer.

For workers in Seattle, 11 years is a very long time to wait for a decent wage. Every year of a phase in is another year of poverty for workers.

I do not support tip credit. Tip credit has proven itself to be a cause of poverty for tipped workers in the 43 states it exists in. It also overturns the 1988 democratic majority vote by WA state workers.

I do not see why businesses should get a healthcare credit. Business executives don’t have to make a choice between a decent wage and health care for their families. Why should workers have to make this false choice? Workers make this city run, and they deserve wages, tips, and healthcare.

The proposal I support is the proposal Labor and I brought to the IIAC and which was never voted on. Labor members and I had put forward a proposal that:

had no phase-in for big business. Big business has to pay 15 now
had a 3 year phase-in for small business and nonprofits
that had no tip credit and healthcare credit, and will be far more stronger

That proposal was not voted on, even though workers in Seattle overwhelmingly support it.

I will continue to argue for that and push the City Council to correct the present recommendation.

I support any proposal to increase of the living standards of working people.

But a supermajority of the working people of Seattle have already said they want a strong measure on fifteen. This proposal does not live up to the wishes of Seattle’s workers. That’s why I vote “no” on this recommendation.

The IIAC recommendation falls short of the $15 Seattle workers have clearly said they want, and need.

But this proposal, which would raise the minimum wage, also shows how the campaigns of workers, are beginning to pay off.

This proposal still needs to be voted on in the city council. Let’s keep the pressure high over the next days and weeks.

This is a historic moment to recognize the power of grassroots organizing. It is a call to action.

March in the May Day this afternoon with me, 15 Now, and our immigrant sisters and brothers.

We still need a backup option should the city council fail to pass 15, which is why we need to keep up the pressure through signature collection.

Join the movement of 15 Now to gather signatures to let the City Council know we are watching.