$15 minimum wage

Washington, D.C., will be the next major city to implement a $15 minimum wage rate following a unanimous vote Tuesday by its city council.

In a victory for local and national labor unions, Washington joins the ranks of cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle in raising wages for primarily lower-income workers in restaurants, retail and other service industries.

The District's current hourly minimum wage is $10.50, and it was scheduled to go up to $11.50 next month under a law enacted in 2014.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Just a few years ago, the idea of a $15 minimum wage seemed outlandish, but now two of the biggest states in the country – New York and California – have approved plans to gradually raise their wage floors to that amount.

Lawmakers and labor unions in California have reached a deal to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The tentative agreement would end a lengthy dispute between California Gov. Jerry Brown and unions, Danielle Karson reports for NPR.

Under the new deal — which still needs to go before the state legislature — the minimum wage would increase gradually over the next six years.

The minimum wage in the state increased to $10 in January, under legislation passed in 2013.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than a dozen workers at Sea-Tac Airport have filed lawsuits claiming they are being unfairly denied the city of Seatac's current minimum wage of $15.24.  The baggage handlers, airplane cleaners, rental-car wranglers and others who work in support services at the airport say they are also owed two years of back pay.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The Washington  Supreme Court says its opinion that SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage law ordinance applies to airport workers stands. That was in response to Alaska Airlines and other businesses asking the court to reconsider its August ruling. The "order denying motion for reconsideration" was issued by the court on Monday, November 30.

Toby Scott / Flickr

Now that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage is being phased in, the mayor is proposing tougher rules to enforce it, including allowing workers to sue employers for violations and receive damages if they win.

A new non-profit legal group in Seattle  called the Washington Wage Claim Project aims to help workers do that. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Tacoma voters have a big choice to make by next Tuesday: Do they want to move even faster than the city of Seattle in lifting their minimum wage?

Patrick Rodriguez via Wikimedia Commons

Tacoma voters have less than a month to decide whether to raise the city’s minimum wage, and if so, how much. Thursday evening, debaters at Pacific Lutheran University will give their best arguments in favor and against a $15 minimum wage.

I-5 Design and Manufacture / Flickr

Tacoma is ground zero for the state's next big minimum wage battle.

The city council voted 7-1 to put an initiative on the November ballot to hike the minimum wage in phases over the next three years, reaching $12 an hour in January 2018. After that, the minimum wage would rise every year at the rate of inflation.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez is praising Seattle for leading the way by phasing in a $15/hour minimum wage. He appeared at a press conference at a restaurant in the Columbia City neighborhood with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other leaders who worked to hike the city's wage floor. 

Perez says Republicans have blocked the president’s efforts to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

But Perez says local and state governments are not waiting around. He says Seattle has set an example for the rest of the country.

Ted S. Warren / AP

For anyone who works in Seattle, earning minimum wage, this week, you get a raise. It’s a first step that will eventually lead to Seattle having one of the highest base wages in the country.

Low wage workers in Seattle will start earning at least $10-an-hour in cash compensation. Patricia Lally, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the rollout of the new law, says thousands of post cards have been mailed to businesses explaining what they need to do.

Oregon could leapfrog Washington to have the highest state minimum wage in the country if the Democratically-controlled legislature approves a proposed increase.

Austin Jenkins

 

Low-wage workers picketed and rallied across the country Thursday in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

On the steps of the Washington state Capitol, a group of about 50 people gathered, mostly minimum wage earners who carried signs saying "Strike poverty." They’re calling for a $15 per hour base wage in Washington state.

With the passage of a complicated minimum wage law in Seattle, officials want to ensure the law is easily understood.  The mayor is proposing a new office called the Office of Labor Standards, that would serve as a clearinghouse for information and enforcement.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle’s low-wage workers are closer to getting a raise. A city council committee unanimously voted to pass Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage plan, with some amendments.

Even Socialist city council member Kshama Sawant, who’s criticized the measure as too watered down, said it’s a victory for workers. 

The plan phases in a $15-an-hour minimum wage over a period of three to seven years, depending on how big the business is. City council members considered a number of amendments, including one to push the initial start date to April 1st next year instead of January 1st. That measure passed.

Andy Ciordia

Seattle City Council members are digging into the details of Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s an eye-catching number that’s garnered national attention, but it's easy to forget the impact of that pesky thing known as inflation.