Seattle Raises Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour In Historic Vote

Image via Flickr/ Tiffany Von Arnim

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday in a historic vote to raise the city’s minimum wage requirement to $15 an hour.

According to USA Today, the plan, which will take effect on April 1, 2015, includes a lower training wage aimed at teens and will phase in the $15 an hour wage gradually over the next three to seven years, depending on the size of the business and the benefits it provides employees.

The ordinance was put together by an advisory group of labor, business and non-profit professionals, who presented the plan after four months of discussion. The plan dictates that businesses with more than 500 employees will be required to pay at least $15 an hour by 2017, or 2018 if health benefits are offered. Smaller businesses will have five to seven years to phase in the new pay increase, and the ordinance says that part of employees’ tips and benefits could be applied toward the higher wage for as long as 11 years.

Washington state already leads the nation in the effort to pay workers fairer wages, with a $9.32 minimum wage, the highest in any state. Earlier in the year, Minnesota raised its state minimum to $9.50, effective by 2016. Other states following suit include California, Connecticut and Maryland, which have all passed laws increasing their wages to $10 or more in coming years. The federal minimum is $7.25.

“Seattle, and other cities, are taking direct action to close our nation’s huge income gap because the federal and state governments have failed to do so,” City Councilman Nick Licata told USA Today.

By significantly raising the minimum wage, Seattle’s prosperity will be shared by more people and create a sustainable model for continued growth.”