Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s first order of business when taking office was to sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage of city workers to $15 an hour. However, the Mayor’s city budget did not set aside any money for the raise – rendering his executive order empty.
Under pressure from 15 Now, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and labor and community allies the Seattle City Council voted to fund the raise! This represents a huge victory for the 700 city workers that made under $15 an hour.
By Ellis E. Conklin Fri., Nov 14 2014 at 01:01PM
In passing a $4 billion budget for Seattle today by a 9-0 vote, the Council’s Budget Committee also unanimously approved an amendment by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, co-sponsored by Councilmember Mike O’Brien, to set aside $1.6 million over the next two years to ensure that all city workers receive a minimum of $15 per hour beginning April 1, 2015.
The Sawant amendment made good on a promise made in January by newly elected Mayor Ed Murray to bring all city workers to $15 per hour by executive order. City unions and others, including Sawant, had been urging the city in recent months to follow through on that promise. The Mayor’s proposed 2015 budget had not included funding to raise the wages of the city’s lowest paid employees to $15 per hour.
“Today we were able to finally deliver on Mayor Murray’s unfulfilled January promise,” said Sawant, whose amendment was strongly supported by the Coalition of City Union and a broad alliance of labor and community groups.
In outlining his 2015-2016 proposed city budget on Sept. 22, Murray altered course from his January declaration by recommending that the salary boost be phased in. He called for upping the wages of the lowest paid city workers to $11 in 2015, then to $13 in 2016, and finally, in 2017, granting them the full $15-an-hour minimum wage.
The Council chose a more immediate route, deciding that all city employees should be making $15 by next April, when the law takes effect.
“This was certainly not intended to be a rebuff to the Mayor,” O’Brien told Seattle Weekly. “The Mayor did a great job on getting the minimum wage law passed, but if we can get faster in getting it implemented, then that’s great. So I am excited about this budget.”
There an estimated 500 to 700 city workers affected, many of them, according one city workers’ union, earning $12.97 an hour. These include recreation attendants for Seattle Parks and Recreation, groundskeepers at city-run golf courses, parks-maintenance workers, and dining-room attendants at Seattle Center.