Months after passing a historic minimum-wage law, the Seattle City Council is again considering action on the issue.
It may add nearly $2 million to Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015 and 2016 budget to boost the pay of all city employees to at least $15 an hour immediately, rather than on the same timeline as private-sector workers.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, backed by Councilmembers Mike O’Brien and Jean Godden, is requesting the change.
Murray’s first executive order after taking office in January directed staff to seek a $15-an-hour minimum wage for city employees, Sawant noted Wednesday in a meeting of the council’s budget committee.
But the mayor went on to help negotiate a $15 minimum wage for all workers in Seattle, not just city employees, and the ordinance he signed in June allows the city the same three-year phase-in period it grants to other employers.
Sawant says the city should set an example by moving to a $15 minimum wage Jan. 1, not years down the road. The additional cost would be about $1 million in 2015 and $750,000 in 2016, she says.
“The gold standard is getting to $15 an hour as soon as possible,” Sawant said Wednesday, arguing the city shouldn’t “continue paying poverty wages to its own employees.”
Most city employees already make at least $15 an hour. But there are an estimated 1,500 who don’t, Sawant says. They include park-maintenance workers, Seattle Center ushers and interns. Many are part time or seasonal workers.
There are also about 475 youth in an annual summer program designed to give low-income teenagers job experience.
Most of the adult employees who earn under $15 an hour are represented by labor unions, and their wages are part of collective-bargaining agreements being renegotiated now.
The council is reviewing the budget until Nov. 24. Budget amendments require support from at least five members.