Are Seattle leaders afraid of $15 minimum wage now?

By Neal McNamara | April 25, 2014
Ed Murray

The $15 Now minimum wage group may want to consider changing its name to “$15 At Some Point, Maybe In a Few Years.”

On deadline day for a consensus proposal to install a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, city leaders and business owners could not reach a consensus.

Mayor Ed Murray announced the big nothing that his income inequality committee produced on Thursday afternoon. All he would say is that the group has agreed to phase in the $15 wage.

Murray’s announcement on Thursday was a reversal for him. He had said previously that April 24 was the drop-dead deadline, and he would put forth his own proposal if the committee could not agree on one by that date.

“I don’t believe we yet have a good cross section of business and labor and nonprofits to see it as a viable proposal,” Murray said. “We want the kind of strong vote that actually indicates strong civic consensus in our city.”

Apparently, nonprofits, small business, and immigrant-owned businesses are the sticks in the mud.

“We have reached an agreement on principle, but currently have not reached agreement that a large number of parties are willing to sign off on,” Murray continued.

“Love that dude,” host Ben Shapiro said of the mayor’s mealy-mouthed comments. “It’s pretty obvious the mayor is swimming in waters he knows naught.

“If you can’t get the left to agree on raising the minimum wage to $15, what can you get the left to agree on?”

Shapiro drew a comparison to the implementation of the George W. Bush tax cuts and Obamacare, policies whose creators insisted must be implemented immediately because of their greatness. But here, with minimum wage, Seattle leaders are leaning toward appeasement – if $15 minimum wage is so great, why can’t they just do it now?

“When it comes to minimum wage, it’s precisely the opposite. We have to figure out how slowly to do this,” Shapiro said.

Host David Boze surmised that Thursday was a reckoning for $15 wage supporters: they began to realize how bad of an idea it is.

“Basically, I think they feel afraid,” he said. “This is an opportunity to say, ‘Look, the only way to do this is you’ve got to understand what’s going to happen to small businesses, to people with lower skills – how big of a shakeup this is.’”

Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant criticized Murray’s stalling on Thursday, claiming that he left out key stakeholders and included too many business owners opposed to the $15 wage.

“The committee is done, it’s over,” she said. “If you are a low wage worker, today is not your day.”

“The city of Seattle and its dignitaries are still obsessed with $15 now,” Boze concluded. “Even if it means $15 now, slash within three to four years.”

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