City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant -- a self-described Socialist and Seattle's most vocal proponent of a $15 per hour wage -- opposed Mayor Ed Murray's announcement Thursday to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Sawant says the proposal, in its current state, is not enough and does not meet her group's demands. In a taped statement, Sawant said:
The fact that the city council of a major city in the U.S. will discuss in the coming weeks raising the minimum wage to $15 is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice.
The proposal that has been announced is a result of the pressure from this movement. Unfortunately, it also reflects the attempt of business to water down what the working people of Seattle want.
This proposal does not live up to the wishes of Seattle’s workers. That’s why I vote 'no' on this recommendation.
Sawant does not support the phasing-in of the higher wage for big business. She says, "McDonald's and Starbuck's have no justification for keeping their workers in poverty for a day longer." She also does not support tip and health care deductions. Her proposal nixes a phase-in for big business -- they "pay 15 now." Smaller businesses and nonprofits would have a 3-year phase-in.
She hopes that her grassroots movement will continue to keep the pressure on the City Council to "correct the present recommendation." She sends out a call to action "through signature collection… to let the city council know we are watching."
Sawant participated in a debate with TruthRevolt editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro in April over the $15 per hour wage. On his Seattle radio show in March, Shapiro interviewed Sawant's assistant, Joshua Koritz, and asked, "Why stop at $15 an hour?" Koritz admitted that Sawant would even consider a $35 minimum wage.