Kshama Sawant
  • The Stranger
  • Council Member Kshama Sawant
Whoa, whoa, whoa... what? Is that headline correct? The uncompromising, raised-fist, red-shirted Socialist council member Kshama "Solidarity!" Sawant will be offering a very specific proposal on the $15 minimum wage tomorrow? YUP. One which her office says will include "addressing concerns of small businesses and human service nonprofits." Clearly, that means something more nuanced than the "$15 now" talking point.

I called her up to ask if she's suddenly gone and sold out. So far, she's held firm to what she ran on—what does she want? $15! When does she want it? Now! And so on. When people have called her unwilling to compromise, she's said she's just waiting for a real counteroffer from business and political opponents. So what's new? I thought "15 Now" was the whole plan?

She says the process has gone on for months without any viable plan coming forth from the business side. Instead, there's some nonspecific talk about possible counterproposals, which include what she considers nonstarters—like total compensation, which could mean counting things like health care coverage or tips as wages. (Dominic wrote a piece explaining what all is on the table in this week's news section.)

"I don't agree with all of these other carve-outs," she says, "but I have ideas." She say it seems like making progress will require her finally taking the first step with a comprehensive, specific bill.

What Sawant doesn't say—but is the obvious subtext—is that her proposal may be the start of a potential $15 minimum wage ballot measure. There are no low-wage workers on the mayor's advisory committee, so what she's offering is a policy that she thinks best represents them. And she's always left open the option of a ballot measure if the committee can't land on something that serves that demographic well.

But of course, she's not gonna lay out her plans in a press release or make an offer straight to business. She's going to roll it out on her terms at a rally full of workers, tomorrow. Which makes for another damn good reason to attend tomorrow's rally and march.