At a press conference this morning newly elected Mayor Ed Murray fulfilled one of his campaign promises by announcing that he would issue an executive order to department heads instructing them to take steps to raise the minimum wage of all city employees to $15 an hour.
“This is the first step in the bigger picture to make this the minimum wage citywide,” Murray said via a press release.
Okay. True enough. But the bigger picture is that only about 600 of the city's roughly 10,000 employees—mostly Seattle Center and parks employees—currently make less than $15 an hour, according to city budget director Ben Noble. And assuming one can trust the estimated $700,000 annual cost to the city budget bandied about at the press conference, my math* says that the vast majority of these 600 workers must be very part-time and/or already damn close to the $15 an hour threshold.
"Both are the case," confirms Noble, "many are less than full time and most are earning close to $15." Noble says that it appears that all of the relevant wages are already above $11, with most above $13.
So to be clear, this a very small first step to a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage. A welcome first step, but small nonetheless.
In other $15 minimum wage news, newly elected Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant's new minimum wage campaign website—15now.org—has gone live. Go there now to join the fight for a living wage, donate money to the cause, and learn more about the January 12 rally at Seattle's Labor Temple.
* 40 hours a week times 52 weeks a year times 600 employees would equal $1,248,000 in additional annual payroll per $1 increase in the hourly wage. Or to put it another way, $700,000 would be enough to cover the cost of raising only about 67 full-time workers from $10 to $15 an hour.