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Seattle Minimum Wage: Group Wants $15 Per Hour Instead of $9.19

Image: Seattle Minimum Wage: Group Wants $15 Per Hour Instead of $9.19

By David Ogul   |  

A nascent movement in Seattle is seeking to spike the minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current $9.19 in the state of Washington, which already is the highest in the nation.

“We’re asking for $15 because in order to support one person in a one-bedroom apartment you need to make $14.88. We don’t make anywhere near that and we’re all on food stamps,” Amanda Larson, 23, told MyNorthwest.com.

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Several City Council members and mayoral candidates say they would support such a move. But Councilman Nick Licata told The Associated Press he didn’t expect the effort to get anywhere — for now — because there are more pressing issues on the agenda. He suggested tackling topics such as wage theft and affordable housing.

Longshot City Council candidate Kshama Sawant has made the effort the centerpiece of her campaign, and she says she’s getting plenty of support from the public.

Some economists argue that raising the minimum wage would benefit all because low-paid workers would have more money to spend, thus giving the economy a needed shot in the arm. But many business owners say they are barely getting by as it is and could not afford a $15 per hour minimum wage. Hiking the pay scale, they say, would lead to layoffs.

The grassroots movement in Seattle is unrelated to a nationwide effort to boost the minimum wage to $15, an effort that has led to walkouts at fast-food restaurants in eight cities, including New York, Chicago and Detroit. Organizers behind that push have called for a nationwide strike at fast-food restaurants and retail outlets on Aug. 29.

“It’s wrong for big corporations to make billions of dollars in profits and pay millions of dollars to their CEOs while us workers barely scrape by on minimum wage,” said Latrice Arnold, a 27-year-old mother of two who earns Michigan’s minimum wage of $7.40 an hour at a Detroit Wendy’s, where she’s worked for two years. Arnold is taking part in the national effort to boost the minimum wage.

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A nascent movement in Seattle is seeking to spike the minimum wage to $15 per hour from the current $9.19 in the state of Washington, which already is the highest in the nation.
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