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Labor activists file initiative to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor

Seattle residents may ultimately determine whether to hike the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

On Monday, labor activists seeking a $15 an hour minimum wage filed paperwork for a Seattle city charter amendment, a move intended to increase pressure on Mayor Ed Murray and the city council to pass the nation’s most aggressive wage increase without exemptions or delays.

Under this measure, the $15 minimum hourly standard would be phased in over a three year period beginning on January 1, 2015.

The initiative is backed by the group “15 Now” and the Socialist Alternative Party. They must collect more than 30,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.

However, this move is only a backup plan if Mayor Murray does not agree to meet the labor activists’ demands.

“We will continue to work with the mayor’s [income inequality] committee and City Council to get all workers to $15 [an hour] quickly,” said Jess Spear, a 15 Now organizer. She added that the group hopes it will not be necessary to put the amendment on the ballot, “but we have to be realistic.”

Efforts to bump Seattle’s minimum hourly pay from $9.35 to $15 an hour gained momentum after the election of self-proclaimed Socialist Kshama Sewant to the city council.

Implementing a $15 minimum was the basis of her campaign and has remained a major focus of her agenda since she was elected.

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