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Tom Shillue


Commission not agreeing yet, but Seattle mayor still set for minimum wage annoucement

Time is up.

Seattle’s Income Inequality Commission has discussed and debated raising the minimum wage to $15. And Mayor Ed Murray said in a blog post he would announce his own plan at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

But it doesn’t sound like there is a consensus and it’s likely the commission, if they don’t reach an agreement, won’t even join Murray we he announces his plan. Though the mayor said he “hopes” they will join him.

“I want to acknowledge the strong commitment and tremendous, good-faith effort of the committee members over these past several months. We are very, very close to a deal that all stakeholders can agree with, but we are still not there yet,” Murray said in his blog. “Standing with me, I hope, will be members of my Income Inequality Advisory Committee. And it is my hope that it will be all the members of my advisory committee.”

Commission member, and owner of the 5-Point Cafe David Meinert told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz Show there’s still a chance a consensus could be reached before the 1:30 p.m. announcement.

“We haven’t come to an agreement but the negotiations continue. There may be an agreement by the time the announcement happens and I think everybody is working towards that,” said Meinert.

As for what’s holding up a consensus, Meinert said, “There’s some points about what the phase-in looks like and kind of what the definition looks like of what a big business is versus what a small businesses is. Those seem to be the main sticking points.”

But despite disagreements, the commission got along, and does agree on the basics, said Meinert.

“Number 1: that we should raise the minimum wage to $15. Number 2: that we should do it relatively soon. And number 3: there shouldn’t be exemptions for collective bargaining agreements, and also I think we all agree that once we get $15 it should grow with the CPI,” said Meinert.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, an outspoken Socialist said she’s frustrated the committee couldn’t at least agree on forcing larger companies to pay $15. And Meinert has a theory about that:

“I think that she, in some ways, is in campaign mode. I think she’s willing to hear different ideas. I’m hoping to get together with Kshama, maybe tomorrow and talk about some ideas,” Meinert said. “I don’t like it when any politician is in campaign mode because I think it’s a lot of posturing – whether that’s Kshama, or someone I support. So it’s hard to comment on that part of her. I talked to her a little bit today and we agree on a lot of the background points and I think we’re really close to coming to a solution that she can support and business can support.”

Even though the commission members remained friendly, the process seemed to take a toll on Meinert, who after leaving Wednesday’s negotiations, was quoted by The Seattle Times as saying,”I need a scotch.”

KIRO Radio’s Zak Burns and’s Alyssa Kleven contributed to this report.

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