VICTORY: Seattle Raises the City’s Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

seiu-org-logoAmazing news out of Washington state today, as the city of Seattle announced that they are raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

There are currently 102,000 workers in Seattle earning less than $15 an hour. This wage increase will put hundreds of millions dollars into the pockets of working-class families that they will invest back into their neighborhoods and strengthen their entire economy.

How did Seattle do it? On May 30th of last year, Seattle fast food workers went on strike for $15 because they knew that raising pay was necessary. Their leadership and commitment helped spark an extraordinary grassroots workers’ movement that rapidly built support across the entire city. Less than a year later, Seattle has achieved a minimum wage that ensures every worker in Seattle can support themselves, afford the basics, and contribute to the economy.

Following Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s announcement that an agreement to lift the minimum wage in Seattle had been reached, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry issued a statement:

“The members of SEIU are thrilled that working people in Seattle have won a landmark victory in their campaign to lift the wage floor in their city and launch an innovative community-based method for making sure workers are paid what they earn.

“This breakthrough happened because ordinary people in Seattle stuck together to force their elected officials and the employer community to listen to them and take them seriously when they called for higher wages that boost the economy instead of hold it back. Their action led to a remarkable dialogue among workers, local government leaders, and local businesses that produced the agreement.

“This happened because of brave people like Crystal Thompson, a Domino’s Pizza worker who went on strike with other Seattle fast food workers to help build the growing national movement to lift pay in the booming fast food industry.

“This happened because of people like Abdirahman Abdullahi, a car rental worker at SeaTac airport who helped lead the campaign to hold a vote in the community of SeaTac to boost wages for airport workers to $15 per hour.

“SEIU members like Washington’s home care workers, who have stuck together in their union to raise their pay from $7.18 to $11 in less than ten years, were among those who stood with airport and fast food workers who aren’t united in a union to say that low wages are holding back their community.

“Through the Working Washington coalition, people across the state stood up to say that it’s simply wrong that so many families can’t count on real economic security, no matter how hard they work.”

Read Mary Kay Henry’ entire statement here.

“Today, this victory is for Seattle,” says SEIU Healthcare 775NW President David Rolf. “Tomorrow, as thousands of low-wage workers mobilize, we will stand down extremists who want to split apart our communities; we will demonstrate to doubters that middle-out economics benefits all; and we will rekindle the American pledge to leave a brighter future for the next generation.”

The bottom line? When the voices of low-wage workers and community leaders are leading the conversation, we see real progress on fair pay. Share this graphic on Facebook to spread the good news far and wide.

This article was originally printed on SEIU on May 1, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

Author: Kate Thomas

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.