Elizabeth Campbell—the onetime mayoral candidate, Magnolia neighborhood activist, and tunnel opponent (she wanted to rebuild the Alaskan Way Viaduct) has filed an initiative at the city to increase the minimum wage in Seattle to $15.
Campbell's proposal includes many exemptions, including a second tier of employees ("Category 2") that includes camp counselors; babysitters; "newsboys"; and those in the media and publishing industries. Employees who are undergoing training ("learner employees") would also make less than the new $15 minimum. "Learners" would initially make between 75 and 95 percent of the new minimum wage (for up to six months of training), and "Category 2" workers would make a minimum of $1.18 above the state minimum, which is currently $9.19 an hour.
Tipped employees would only have to be paid half the new minimum, provided that their tips and wages add up to $15 an hour.
In the past, her electoral efforts have, to put it mildly, fallen flat. Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel, or SCAT (yup), failed to get its anti-tunnel Initiative 101 on the ballot in 2011, and Campbell lost her 2009 mayoral bid in the primary, winning just 2 percent of the vote. She has also filed a statewide anti-tunnel initiative this year, for which she'll need to get nearly 250,000 signatures to put it on the ballot.
Campbell's latest measure would require 20,638 signatures—10 percent of the total number of people who voted in the 2013 mayoral election.
Campbell's proposal certainly won't be the last word on the minimum wage; city council member-elect Kshama Sawant has vowed to put a measure calling for $15 on the ballot if her colleagues and mayor-elect Ed Murray fail to pass a $15 minimum in 2014, and the deep-pocketed Service Employees International Union 775 is very much on board.