Negotiations Continue on Minimum Wage
Down to the wire, and with May Day looming, negotiations continue on the details of the income-inequality committee's minimum wage proposal.
Jeff Reading, the spokesman for Mayor Ed Murray, says the mayor's office won't have any announcement today about progress toward an agreement on a $15 minimum wage.
The latest version of the proposal would phase in the full $15 minimum for all businesses, including both small businesses (defined as those with fewer than 500 employees—a group, as the Seattle Times noted today, that includes fewer than 1 percent of all Seattle employers) and large ones.
Small businesses that offer health care or have tipped employees would get to count those benefits toward the $15 minimum during the phase-in period, which would be seven years for businesses that offer benefits or have tipped workers, and five years for those without insurance or tipped workers. Large businesses would have a parallel phase-in over four years and three years, respectively, and cost of living adjustments to the $15 minimum would not kick in until after the phase-in period.
Business negotiators on the committee have reportedly presented their final offer, and it reportedly remains up to the labor side to sign off on the remaining details for a deal to be finalized. None of that is final, though, since the group and Murray still have not announced an agreement. Murray spokesman Reading says, "We don’t have an agreement on anything yet, so whatever’s out there has to change in order to get to an agreement. I think any of the drafts are out there are drafts, they’re not deals."
The group will continue to meet over the weekend to hash out the remaining details. Business negotiators on the committee have reportedly presented their final offer, and it reportedly remains up to the labor side to sign off on the remaining details for a deal to be finalized.
Meanwhile, Murray is leaving for an intercity study mission in New York tomorrow, and returning on Wednesday—one day before May Day, which could, if the group hasn't reached a deal by then, turn into a showcase for 15Now protesters, who are also holding a daylong event at Franklin High School this Saturday, where socialist city council member Kshama Sawant will be speaking and 15Now supporters will be gathering signatures for a possible initiative.
Sawant, who declared at a press conference held while committee members were frantically meeting in the mayor's office upstairs yesterday that the committee had "failed" and was "done," wrote a letter to Murray this afternoon asking him to clarify that no deal has been made, and continuing, "If the Committee is still in existence, please clarify when the next meeting is scheduled, so we can discuss any recommendations, including the proposal that was presented by labor representatives and me."
That proposal includes a $15 minimum wage with no exemptions, no total compensation, and only a three-year phase-in period for small businesses and nonprofits.
If the committee ultimately does fail to come up with a proposal both business and labor can agree on, Murray has said he will put his own proposal forward. Either way, the legislation will go to the city council, which will have the ultimate say on the details.