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Wash.: Seattle City Council Approves $15 Minimum Wage

By Joanne Deschenaux  6/3/2014
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The Seattle City Council, voting 9-0, has approved a $15 hourly minimum wage— the highest in the nation.

The ordinance, which was passed on June 2, 2014, and would take effect in April 2015, was signed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on June 3.

It would phase in wage increases over three to seven years, depending on the size of the business and the type of employee benefits paid by the employer. It also would allow a sub-minimum wage for teens.

Some small business owners worry that a higher minimum wage could put them out of business. The International Franchise Association, a Washington, D.C.-based business group that represents franchise owners, said it plans to sue to stop the ordinance.

"The City Council's action today is unfair, discriminatory and a deliberate attempt to achieve a political agenda at the expense of small franchise business owners," the group said in a statement.

A group called 15 Now led by Socialist Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would create an immediate wage hike for large businesses and a three-year phase-in for small business.

“Our victory is not complete, but we have fought until the last day, the last hour, against all the loopholes demanded by business,” Sawant said before the council vote. “$15 in Seattle is just the beginning.”

Joanne Deschenaux, J.D., is SHRM’s senior legal editor.
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