SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation.
The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months, and a boisterous crowd of mostly labor activists packed the Council chambers for the vote. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly-elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well.
"We did it. Workers did this," said Kshama Sawant, the socialist City Councilmember "We need to continue to build an even more powerful movement."
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said "Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages" and address the "widening gap between the rich and the poor."
The measure, which would take effect on April 1, 2015, includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.
By Ed Scarce — June 2, 2014