Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray told a newly appointed committee made up of labor and business that it had four months to come up with a recommendation for raising Seattle’s minimum wage.
Murray skirted an actual dollar amount, referring to his campaign pledges to work toward a $15 minimum wage, but leaving open the possibility that it could be a phased-in approach or even exceed $15.
Murray said he was committed to legislation that did not hurt business or put people out of jobs, but improved the lives of working people. He said his policy team would analyze existing data about the effects of raising the minimum wage and what it costs to live in Seattle.
“We are not going to pass a slogan,” he said.
Howard Wright, CEO of the Seattle Hospitality Group, and David Rolf, president of SEIU 775 NW, will head up a 23-person committee that includes several labor unions, restaurant owners, Nucor Steel and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Murray introduced committee members at a news conference today at the Seattle Municipal Tower.
Wright said he wouldn’t be part of the committee if he didn’t think it was possible to “cross a bridge to a common solution.”
City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant agreed to be part of the committee, along with Councilmembers Nick Licata and Bruce Harrell, but Sawant made clear that if there isn’t a substantive agreement that includes a $15 minimum wage by the beginning of April, she will consider working with other advocates for low-wage workers to put an initiative before voters on the November ballot.
By setting an aggressive timeline for the minimum-wage discussions, Murray said, he hopes to avoid an expensive fight between labor and business over a ballot initiative, such as the $15 minimum-wage ordinance that passed narrowly in SeaTac in November and ended up costing about $94 per vote.