Murray, councilmembers applaud first day of Seattle’s new minimum wage

Today Mayor Ed Murray applauded the launch of Seattle’s phased-in minimum wage that will raise the wage to $15/hour, starting with today’s increase of minimum wage or guaranteed minimum compensation to $11 an hour.

Mayor Murray was joined by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, City Councilmembers, business leaders and labor advocates at Island Soul, a restaurant in Columbia City.

“Today Seattle gets a raise. When our $15 minimum wage is fully phased in, more than 100,000 workers across the city will benefit,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Everyone who works in Seattle should be able to afford to live in Seattle.”

In attendance were members of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee, who worked to come to agreement on how the deal would work.

“We can celebrate this accomplishment because business and labor sat down together to find a way to move forward,” said Murray. “We should celebrate this accomplishment by dining out and shopping at local Seattle restaurants and businesses.”

“Income inequality is an issue that we as a city and a country have needed to address for a long time,” said Angela Stowell, Partner and CFO at Ethan Stowell Restaurants. “The restaurant and hospitality industries are resilient and over the years we’ve had to adjust our business models to respond to changing social and economic conditions.  There may not be a one-size-fits-all approach making those adjustments, but with the patience and support of the local community, restaurants can continue to thrive.”

“Today is an exciting day for the thousands of fast food workers, whose courage to stand up and demand justice helped lead to the historic vote to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15/hour,” said David Rolf, President of SEIU 77. “It’s an exciting day for Seattleites, who will see an improving economy as low-wage workers have more money to spend in our community. And it’s an exciting day for all low-wage workers across the country who are sick of waiting for Congress and corporate CEOs to address growing inequality and see Seattle as a beacon of hope of how local communities can take action now.”

Seattle’s minimum wage uses a phased-in approach to raise the wage over the next decade, depending on size of business and whether or not healthcare benefits are provided by the employer.

In order to educate businesses about how to comply with the increase – as well as to provide workers with avenues for enforcement of underpayment – the Mayor established the Office of Labor Standards (OLS).

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards will open for business on Wednesday, April 1, taking workers’ calls about possible violations of the Minimum Wage and Wage Theft Ordinances and helping employers make sure they are in compliance with these laws. Workers with questions can call 206-684-4500 or email ocr_intake@seattle.gov. Employers can email their questions to minimumwage@seattle.gov.

The Office of Labor Standards has posted new materials to its Minimum Wage web site, including:

  • Final Administrative Rules;
  • A new and expanded Frequently Asked Questions document;
  • A workplace poster for downloading; and
  • Factsheets for small and large businesses.

To prepare for the April 1 roll-out, the Office of Labor Standards sent nearly 50,000 postcards to local businesses, ran print and radio ads with ethnic media and placed giant ads on the sides of buses running in Seattle. The Office of Labor Standards also is preparing to work with community based organizations to fund outreach and education, worker training, technical assistance and intake and referral services, as well as outreach and education to ethnic and minority owned businesses, including businesses owned by immigrant and refugee communities.