Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is set to unveil his plan to increase the minimum wage in the city on Thursday, his office announced Wednesday.
The mayor’s announcement came as his advisory group of business, labor, non-profits and other representatives apparently did not agree on a plan. Murray had created the group late last year to chart a plan following a pledge to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
In a statement, Murray said he hopes that the advisory group manages to reach an agreement by Thursday. If not, he’s ready to present his plan.
“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.
We may reach an agreement by tomorrow, we may not. But in either case, we will get to a good, thoughtful, meaningful solution that reflects the input and concerns of all who will be affected – which has been the goal of this process all along.”
Supporters of a $15 minimum wage say it will benefit employers, but KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross asks if that’s true, why don’t they begin to implement it themselves?
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who claims to have come up with the $15 figure, says there is research showing it’s difficult for an individual company to raise the minimum wage on its own.
But Reich says that shouldn’t matter because bringing more people into the job market means a bigger pool of potential employees, reduces turnover, and makes it easier to justify paying more.
“What we’ve seen, time and again, is that when the minimum wage is increased, more people are drawn into the job market overall. It’s better for businesses because they have more choice.”
Reich said he was told a higher minimum wage would be a job killer when he advocated for it in 1996 as labor secretary.
“If you raise the minimum wage, you actually put more money in people’s pockets and businesses also have more choice in whom to hire. I was proven right. After we raised the minimum wage in 1996, we had more jobs created in the United States than we ever had before,” he said.
And as for the debate on whether tips, benefits or 401(k)s should be included in what’s considered a minimum wage, Reich doesn’t think it should be implemented differently than before.
“There should not be a tipped minimum wage. That’s unfair to a lot of workers.”
There is also a chance that a $15 minimum wage could come down to voters. Last week, the group “15 Now” filed paperwork with the City of Seattle to put an initiative on the November ballot.
A First 15 Now National Conference is Saturday at Franklin High School with Kshama Sawant speaking. Reports say her 15Now movement plans to take over Seattle’s annual May Day march.
KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross, MyNorthwest.com’s Alyssa Kleven, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.