Why I Support Increasing the Minimum Wage

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15 NowBelow are my remarks from Monday’s Council meeting regarding the Mayor’s minimum wage ordinance:


Thank you very much colleagues, for all of your work on this issue, and everyone here in the audience who followed and worked on this legislation as well.


I want to say very clearly that I do support increasing the minimum wage. This is one of the few ways the City has to help ensure that people who work in Seattle can earn a livable wage.


Perhaps the most important effect of this legislation is the message being heard around the world that Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages and benefits and that we deplore the growth in income inequality and the widening gap between the rich and the poor.


But there is much more to do. The minimum wage does not address the loss of upward mobility or the lack of job opportunities for so many people. Nor does it address our regressive tax system. There is truly much more that has to be done.


During the course of the many months that I have met with so many people in our community, I would say that there are two words that describe what I have heard from people in this debate and those words are: Hope and Fear


Hope that those who work in Seattle can earn a livable wage to be able to live in Seattle; and the fears from the owners of small businesses that they will not be able to survive the higher wage requirements.


Some of the small business owners believe that they have not been represented and that they have not been heard in this process.


But I have also heard another word I’ve heard today from the City Council, and that is commitment. A commitment to lift up those at the lowest wage level of workers, while giving small business time to accommodate to the increase.  And also a commitment on the part of the City Council to enforce our new minimum wage law.


And those are my commitments as well.


There are a number of people I would like to thank on this effort, first and foremost is Councilmember Sawant for leading this cause.


I also want to thank the Mayor for bringing people together to help craft this legislation, which some have called exquisitely balanced and others have called a mess!


Thank you to Councilmember Clark for calmly chairing our Council Committee meetings. And also thank you to the many small business owners who have taken many hours away from work to come to City Hall to meet with me and other councilmembers.


And finally I want to thank the many fast food workers and many other

advocates for their efforts on this ordinance.


It is the right thing to do.