Seattle mayor unveils plan for $15 minimum wage (Video)

Mayor Ed Murray on Thursday announced plans for a $15 an hour minimum wage, calling the proposal that would take three to seven years to fully implement “historic.”

Murray, alongside Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and other business and community leaders, presented a plan for $15-an-hour minimum that was approved by 21 of 25 members of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee the mayor tasked with studying a way to raise wages.

“The glue of uniting us together has always been a large middle class,” said Murray, 58, a Democrat elected in November. “Real wages for most U.S. workers have increased little since the 1970s.”

Murray’s proposal is 61 percent more than the present $9.32 hourly minimum wage in Washington state. Restaurants, hotels and other employers have objected to a higher minimum, saying it could raise prices, lead to job losses and force many businesses operating on low profit margins to close.

Fast-food workers across the U.S. staged strikes last year, saying the federal minimum of $7.25 leaves them in poverty. With President Barack Obama’s proposal for an increase to $10.10 stalled, many U.S. cities and states have pushed their own wages higher. San Francisco’s minimum is $10.74, and the city council in Richmond, California, approved an increase to $12.30, according to the National Employment Law Project.

SeaTac, a Seattle suburb, voted in November to raise the hourly minimum to $15 for 6,300 people who work at the region’s international airport and other nearby businesses.

The Seattle mayor’s proposal needs approval by the city council. A group called 15 Now has also been gathering signatures for a potential November ballot initiative that would amend the city’s charter to require a faster phase-in of $15 hourly wages.


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