Seattle’s Historic Minimum Wage Raise

July 20, 2014

 

In early June, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a bill into law that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour. At more than double the federal level, Seattle’s new wage floor will become the highest in the country once it is fully implemented. Large businesses have until 2017 to reach the $15 mark while small businesses can wait as late as 2021. In both cases, wages will be slowly raised in the intervening years to make the process as painless as possible for businesses.

A task force of labor and business leaders developed most aspects of the plan. Seattle’s City Council approved the bill unanimously, but that doesn’t mean everyone supports the wage hike. The International Franchisee Association immediately voiced their disapproval of the law on the grounds that it subjects small franchisees to the same requirements as large businesses. “Just because you’re a franchisee using a common brand doesn’t mean that you’re part of one giant business,” said the trade group’s General Counsel Dennis Wieczorek. “You’re an independent owner.”

Others predict that the law will discourage businesses from hiring, which could end up hurting the very people the wage increase is meant to help. With so many possible outcomes, cities across the country will be watching to see how this legislation affects Seattle in the long run. Proponents of the wage hike point to the neighboring Washington community of SeaTac, which implemented its own $15-an-hour minimum wage for hospitality and transportation workers last year. So far the measure has been successful for the small town, but a big city like Seattle is a different matter. While many businesses seem accepting of the plan now, things could change when the deadline looms closer.

 

Questions:

  1. Should Seattle’s small businesses be subject to the city’s minimum wage hike?
  1. How will Seattle’s action affect the rest of the United States?

 

Source: Eric Morath and Melanie Trottman, “Seattle City Council Approves $15 Minimum Hourly Wage,” The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2014. Photo by Chethan Shankar.

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