Mayor Murray announces $15 minimum wage plan

By Neal McNamara | May 1, 2014
Ed Murray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced the consensus plan for increasing the minimum wage to $15 in Seattle on Thursday.

Expectedly, Murray did not listen to $15 minimum wage skeptics, who predict massive job losses and businesses moving out of Seattle. Instead, he forged ahead with a plan to install the wage with these details:

  • Small businesses, defined as having 500 or fewer employees, get seven years to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour; during those seven years, the employers can count tips and benefits, also called “total compensation” toward the $15 wage
  • Small businesses have to stop counting tips and benefits after the seven-year phase concludes
  • Large businesses, defined as having 500 or more employees, get a three-year phase in; if the large business provides its employees with healthcare, they get a four-year phase in
  • After seven years, minimum wage would increase based on the consumer price index, also called inflation
  • Murray said that 21 of 24 members of his minimum wage committee agree to the plan

KTTH host Ben Shapiro said after Murray’s announcement that the plan was a way to obscure the economic damage from increasing the wage to $15.

“This is a lengthy phase-in designed to obscure the results of raising the minimum wage. By doing it in a piecemeal fashion rather than all at once, Murray and his allies can now claim that outside factors depress employment, or ignore outside factors increasing employment rather than allowing immediate $15 minimum wage to solve once and for all the question of whether a mandated increase in minimum wage leads to business stagnation,” he said.

Host Michael Medved called the whole affair a “boneheaded disaster” that will surely still kill or move small businesses outside of Seattle.

“It’s inevitable for things like restaurants to close; this is going to be a true killer,” Medved said. “Even ramped up over seven years.”

Medved wondered what would happen to all the employees who make less than $15 per hour, but more than the current minimum, $9.32. If an employee has worked himself up to making $12.50 an hour, and then he is suddenly making the same as someone who just started, won’t that kill morale?

“It’s going to lead to a lot of departures and closures,” Medved said.

Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who brought the $15 wage push to the forefront in Seattle, reacted negatively to Murray’s proposal. She said she brought a proposal to Murray’s committee that was backed by workers, and that Murray’s plan still has to be voted on by the Council.

“Our work is far from done,” she said.

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