The plight of low wage workers has been put on the shelf for far too long and Seattle’s push towards better pay has been an important step forward in recognizing the problems these workers face. On June 2nd, 2014 the Seattle City Council approved the $15 minimum wage. This vote serves as a milestone decision and gives hope to many low wage workers in other cities around the United States where income inequality is hindering their daily lives and driving them to poverty.
What does it mean now that Seattle has approve the 15 dollar minimum wage?
Currently, low wage workers in the United States struggle to pay bills and provide for their families because they don’t make enough money to account for those costs. Some people believe an increased minimum wage will be good for Seattle’s economy and will lift thousands out of poverty. However, others worry that it puts a lot of stress on small business owners and reduces the number of jobs because higher wages would force employers to try and compensate for labor costs.
SO…what is Seattle doing to address these concerns?
Seattle is the first major city to take such swift action in addressing the issue of income inequality. Still, the city is taking the aforementioned concerns into account by implementing an incremental plan. Starting April 1st, 2014 the minimum wage will increase to either $10 or $11 depending on the employer. City council members have worked hard to reach a compromise which they feel “recognizes the harm caused by stagnant wages and the harm to local businesses should [they] move forward too quickly.”
The hope is that the increased minimum wage will give low wage workers some room to breathe. Although there will continue to be conflicting views and many challenges , there is no denying that the organizational efforts of those who were part of the increased minimum wage movement were successful. Their victory will serve as an example for many cities and states across the country. San Francisco is already following in the footsteps of Seattle. Last week, San Francisco’s mayor proposed a measure that, if approved by voters in the fall, would increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2018.
This blog post was written by our summer Bus Intern Amulya Cherala.