The Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance today that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation. The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well.
"This legislation sends a message heard around the world: Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and that we deplore the growth in income inequality and the widening gap between the rich and the poor," Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said. The measure, which would take effect on April 1, 2015, includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years. (See why one analyst calls the move "a disaster," and how the Swiss voted on a proposed $25 minimum wage.)