It was a mantra of the 1970s to think globally and act locally. That concept drives the minimum wage debate in Seattle. But, one challenge to tackling international income inequality through Seattle City Hall is, well – Seattle City Hall.
City authority on the issue stops at the city limits and neighboring or nearby cities are not upping the statewide minimum wage within their boundaries.
According to an April 20 editorial in the Seattle Times, that means Seattle ought to move forward with care. “With no neighboring cities considering such a jump, Seattle would be a high-wage island,” the editorial advises. The editorial is available here.
The editorial recognizes a need for higher wages but questions the scale and timing of the 15 Now proposal for Seattle. Among other things, the Times calls for adjusting a citywide minimum wage to include credits for companies providing employer-paid health care benefits and taxable tip income.
Without that type of mitigation, a 63% jump in the minimum wage in Seattle would add to existing taxes and fees that are already far higher than those in neighboring jurisdictions including Kent and Tukwila. Seattle’s higher costs are incentives for employers to seek alternative locations where operating expenses are lower.
The minimum wage issue will be the primary discussion topic at the April 29 meeting of the Manufacturing Industrial Council. The meeting will be held at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle Community College, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you want attend, RSVP to Christine Jones at Christine@seattleindustry.org.
A revised proposal for a Seattle minimum wage is expected this week from Mayor Ed Murray and/or his minimum wage task force.
Advocates for 15 Now have already filed paperwork seeking a ballot measure on the minimum wage next fall.
For more information about industrial impacts of the 15 Now proposal, check this past issue of the Seattle Industry newsletter, or this column by the Manufacturing Industrial Council published April 17 in the Seattle Times.
For more information about the MIC, call MIC Executive Director Dave Gering at 206-762-2470.