Minimum-Wage Committee Member Harrell Joins Sawant in "$15/Hour Contingent" at MLK March
City council member Bruce Harrell, joined by colleague Mike O'Brien and (in absentia) Nick Licata, marches in Sawant's $15/hour contingent for MLK Day.
City council member Bruce Harrell, who is, along with colleagues Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata, a member of the 25-member committee Mayor Ed Murray has appointed to come up with a proposal to increase Seattle's minimum wage, marched in today's MLK Day parade as part of the "$15 Now" contingent alongside Sawant, suggesting that Harrell supports the $15 standard. O'Brien also marched in the $15-an-hour crowd; Licata, who made a statement of support, was out of town.
Harrell hasn't yet returned a call to his cell phone. But in an official city press release, he said that "income inequality is the defining civil rights issue of our time. ... One of the most immediate, effective actions we can take as law makers to address this struggle is to raise the minimum wage. It is truly inspiring to see the ground swell of support around this issue and I am proud to march to show my support as well."
Harrell's equivocal words leave room for interpretation. Nonetheless, Harrell's sign-off would certainly send a signal to fellow committee members that the Seattle city council faction on the committee, anyway (council member Mike O'Brien joined Harrell among the "$15 Now" marchers), is firmly in favor of a $15 minimum, as opposed to a lower number (or, as some have suggested, a phased-in approach that would only apply to the largest businesses).
Sawant spokesman Philip Locker said that although he can't speak for Harrell, he was glad to see the council member "joining the $15 an hour contingent today." In a statement, Sawant said Harrell and council member Mike O'Brien were joining in a nationwide "movement for economic justice [that] is a continuation of the civil rights movement."