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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

April 14, 2014 at 10:50 AM

$15 Now files ballot initiative to raise Seattle’s minimum wage

Activists this morning filed a Seattle city charter amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2015. The measure calls for a three-year phase-in for small business and non-profit organizations and defines a small business as any with 250 or fewer full-time employees.

Backers of the amendment, which includes 15 Now and the Socialist Alternative Party, say the measure is still a “backup plan” and that they will wait for the outcome of Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Committee recommendation, due at the end of the month, to begin collecting signatures. Murray’s recommendation is supposed to be forwarded to the City Council, which will debate whether to enact a city ordinance or place a measure on the ballot.

“We still hold out hope that the City Council will move forward with a strong measure,” said Jeff Upthegrove, campaign treasurer.

The mayor’s committee has two remaining meetings, but is so far deadlocked over businesses’ insistence that tips and other forms of compensation such as health care be counted toward the $15 minimum. Labor has opposed that position, saying it undermines the state minimum wage law that does not allow anything but base wages to be counted.

The City Attorney’s Office must review the proposed amendment and draft a title for a ballot measure. An opposing group could at that time bring a legal challenge to the title.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: $15 minimum wage, 15 Now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

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