Friday, June 06, 2014

A Seattle Model on Wages

[The story of how Seattle put in place a plan to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour provides much to consider.  What follows is a good report from Think Progress.  Reactions invited!]

How A Millionaire, A Socialist, And Some Taco Bell Workers Brought A Living Wage To Seattle

By Alan Pyke   

When Mayor Ed Murray (D) signed a bill that gradually raises Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 an hour on Tuesday, his choice of location seemed to reflect the complex and cooperative process that produced the document he was signing.

Rather than City Hall, Murray chose to hold the signing ceremony in Cal Anderson Park, which was the starting point for some of the many rallies that activists from groups, like 15 Now, organized over the past year. A ballplayer with a good arm would have no trouble throwing a rock from the park’s northwest corner into Dick’s Drive-In, a local Seattle burger chain. The south end of the park looks onto a multi-block stretch of bars and restaurants that has exploded with development and commerce in the past few years. Business interests like these played an essential role in crafting the aggressive-but-thoughtful law that Murray signed in that park on Tuesday.

And just a couple hundred feet west of the park sits Seattle Central Community College, a hub of Occupy Seattle activity and the trampoline from which Socialist Kshama Sawant launched her successful city council campaign.

It took a year of activist pressure, a worker-dominated election cycle that put a socialist on the city council, and several months of hard negotiating across ideological lines, but the new law will raise Seattle workers’ standard of living dramatically over the coming years. Some things about that process may be unique to Seattle, and replicating the exact recipe the city’s labor, business, and political communities used might be impossible. But interviews with some of the most prominent participants reveal that the key ingredients for a $15 minimum wage are completely portable, and could soon come to a city near you.

A Confluence Of Pressure

On the evening of May 29, 2013, Taco Bell and Burger King night shift workers walked off the job, forcing a pair of stores to close. They were joined the next morning by dozens more workers from other chain restaurants in other neighborhoods around the city, who planned to converge in the late morning — near Cal Anderson Park, of course — and march together a little more than a mile west to Denny Park for an afternoon rally. A local progressive activist called it “a powerful kickoff” for a movement that didn’t yet know what shape it would take.

Read the entire article here.

No comments: