The first-ever appearance of Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on The Dori Monson Show was cut short when the councilwoman said she had to go mid-interview and dropped off the line.
But KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz had the councilwoman on later in the day and followed up on a question he felt didn't get answered.
Monson and Sawant had been discussing Seattle City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco, already the highest paid City of Seattle employee, getting a $120,000 raise on top of his $245,000-a-year salary. Both agreed that Carrasco should not get the raise. But Monson asked if Sawant also disagreed with the similarly high salaries of labor leaders she's associated with.
Listen: Kshama Sawant with Dori
"I wanted to ask one question that Dori asked that I didn't think got answered," said Rantz, "because I do think it is valid and I do think it is a reasonable question. He pointed out that local and national labor leaders also make high salaries, similar to that of the Seattle City Light CEO. Should you be critical of them as well?"
Sawant said she thought she'd answered the question for Dori but offered further explanation for Rantz.
"The city council pays me $117,000. I take home only $40,000, which is the average workers wage in Seattle, and the rest of my salary is put into a solidarity fund for social justice movements," said Sawant. "And why do I do that? Because I really, truly believe that the most effective way you can be a genuine advocate for the interests of the average worker is if you are not making so much money that your standard of living is completely out of bounds of what the workers you're trying to represent can achieve. That is why I personally believe that, that is important.
"As far as the labor leaders you are talking about, again for them also, I believe that whoever is trying to genuinely fight for the interest of workers, for people who are struggling to make a living, the best way and the most effective way you can do that is if you are also willing to live at the average worker's wage because it keeps you in touch with reality. It keeps you accountable and it keeps you with a sense of urgency because you don't have a cushy lifestyle. It keeps you with a sense of urgency to fight for other people like yourself.
"I will say this, if workers in unions wanted to carry out a movement that the leadership should be paid somewhat lower salaries, within the realms of what the membership makes, I would support that. But I would also say in addition to all of that, that there is a difference between a labor person who is actually fighting for workers and an executive who is just looking out for their own bottom line and looking out for the interest of billionaire shareholders."
Listen to Rantz's full conversation with City Councilmember Kshama Sawant: