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Hundreds gather at Seattle Town Hall meeting on minimum wage

They stood in the rain for hours, so that they could tell a city committee what they thought about raising the minimum wage.

Hundreds packed Seattle’s Town Hall Wednesday. Many of them were red-shirted advocates of the campaign to increase the city’s minimum to $15 an hour.

The joint hearing before Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee and the Seattle City Council listened to hours of public comment, covering varying points of view.

One woman said, “My non-profit depends on the health of the surrounding business community. The fact is my non-profit cannot develop if there is a 60 percent increase in labor costs in my business community.”

A worker from Safeway was among those raising positive comments for a raise in the minimum wage. “It would be easier to pay bills, feed the family, put a little away for the future. Plus, it would take away the stress that comes with living check to check.”

Jason Harvey described himself as a Navy veteran and eight-year fast-food restaurant employee who gets food stamps and goes to food banks to make ends meet.

Rob Wilson told the hearing he owns a small business in Seattle. He said he’d like to see a minimum-wage increase that takes into account tips and employee benefits.

Another in support of the increase told the committee he would like to see people get the help that they need – including himself.

But one man, yelling his comments at the meeting, shouted something many appeared to be worried about. “Yes, I’m for paying people more, who the hell isn’t? But if it’s going to cost me my job, oh hell no.”

Washington state’s minimum wage is $9.32 an hour.

The mayor’s Income Inequality Committee is expected to offer the City Council a proposal by April 30.

The Associated Press and KIRO Radio’s Frank Shiers contributed to this report.

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