'Seattle's Greatest Social and Economic Experiment Is about to Begin'

That's how USA Today reporter John Bacon concluded his video on the Seattle City Council's historic vote to increase the city minimum wage to $15/hour in 3-7 years depending on the business. The outcome was never in doubt due to prior deliberations.
June 4, 2014, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Before a packed house late Monday night (June 2), the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to increase the $9.32 per hour minimum wage, already the nation's highest, to $15. It "will phase in over three to seven years, depending on the size of the business and benefits they provide employees," writes (and explains in below video) John Bacon

"Seattle's Chamber of Commerce initially balked at the wage plan," writes Bacon, arguing that "small and minority businesses would be put at risk by the increase in personnel costs.  Compromises were put forward, and a rancorous Council committee meeting last week resulted in some adjustments to the plan that appeared to pave the way for easy passage."

One business group unhappy with the result was the International Franchise Association which "said it plans to sue to overturn the ordinance. The trade group, which represents franchise owners, said it puts Seattle business owners at a disadvantage," writes Kathy Cherpelis for Yahoo Finance.

"Next April 1, when the plan takes effect, every worker will get at least a $1-an-hour raise," writes Bacon. The measure also "includes a lower training wage aimed at teenagers."

Businesses employing more than 500 workers would be required to pay $15 an hour by 2017, or 2018 if health care is offered. Smaller businesses would have five to seven years to phase in the increase. Part of employees' tips and benefits could be applied toward the higher minimum for as long as 11 years.

The vote was a victory for Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle's new socialist city council member, Kshama Sawant, who spearheaded the campaign to achieve the historic minimum wage. The text of her victory speech is available here.

Listen to NPR report on the $15 minimum wage here.

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Published on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in USA Today
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