June 3, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Seattle, WA — In a major victory in fast-food workers’ 18-month fight for higher pay and a union, the Seattle City Council has passed a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Fast-food workers – who initiated the call for $15 and a union beginning in November 2012 in New York City – called the increase a victory for workers and vowed to continue the fight nationwide for a $15 minimum wage.
"Fast-food workers have been paving the way for a better future for workers across Seattle – and are sending a strong message to cities across the country," said Crystal Thompson, a Seattle Domino's worker who went on strike to call for higher pay. "When I see $15, I'll be able to afford my own place in a safe neighborhood where my kids can ride their bikes, and I'll finally be able to go back to school."
As Congress dithers, cities and states across the country are moving forward with proposals to raise the minimum wage above and beyond the $10.10 called for by President Obama. Fast-food workers in New York City initiated the call for $15 when they went on strike in November 2012, and since then, the idea of a minimum wage in the teens has taken off around the country.
Late last month, the California Senate approved a $13 statewide minimum wage, with indexing to inflation. And in Chicago, a coalition of alderman introduced an ordinance, with more than 50 co-sponsors, which would raise the minimum wage for workers to $15. Meanwhile, in Providence, the City Council is considering a bill that would raise the minimum wage for hotel workers to $15. A similar proposal in LA is expected to be voted on this fall. In San Francisco, a $15 minimum wage could be on the ballot in November. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out in support of allowing cities, particularly New York City, to raise the minimum wage to higher than $13 an hour.
“Seattle shows what is possible when workers come together and stand up for respect and better pay," said Laquita Jackson, 33, who has worked at McDonald's in Memphis, TN for ten years and makes $8.10 an hour. “Fast-food workers around the country need $15 an hour and a union, and we are going to continue fighting until that is a reality.”