A business-backed group Forward Seattle is suggesting an alternative to the popular $15 minimum wage proposal that would exempt small businesses and include a “tip credit,” allowing employers to count tips as part of an employee’s hourly wage. The proposal would also count things like bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing toward “total compensation.”

The group’s proposal would increase the minimum wage in Seattle to $12.50 an hour, except for “small businesses” as defined by the national Small Business Administration—a category that ranges widely from industry to industry, but includes some retail businesses with annual revenues of up to $21.5 million, as well as some manufacturing businesses with as many as 1,500 employees, depending on the industry, a classification that would obviously exclude many Seattle companies.

All smaller businesses would, under Forward Seattle’s proposal, pay a minimum of $11 an hour starting in January 2015 (again, subject to tip credits and other aspects of “total compensation”), a wage that would rise in two steps to $12.50 by 2017.

A potential initiative and thus counterbalance to $15 Now's pressure from the left?

Forward Seattle’s proposal would also allow employers to pay younger workers a sub-minimum “youth wage.”

Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee is scheduled to come up with a proposal for raising the minimum wage by the end of April. 

We have a call in to Forward Seattle to ask if their proposal is intended as a potential initiative and thus a counterbalance to the pressure 15 Now's is putting on Murray's committee from the left; 15 Now, which is campaigning for a no-compromise $15 minimum wage, says it will run an initiative if Murray's task force, which includes 15 Now allies City Council member Kshama Sawant and King County Labor Council leader Dave Freiboth, doesn't come up with a satisfactory proposal. 

We also have a call in to Seattle chamber of commerce head Maud Daudon, who's also on Murray's task force, to see if she supports Forward Seattle's proposal.


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