The decision makes Seattle the first major city in the country to take such an action.
“It’s a historic moment. It’s been a tough discussion on all sides. It’s been tough on the council members. It’s been tough on the folks who have been in on the negotiations. I thought I would show my support by being here,” said Ed Murray, Seattle Mayor.
Starting April 1, 2015, companies with more than 500 employees have three years to gradually increase pay for their minimum wage employees to $15 an hour. Companies with fewer workers will have seven years.
Socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant tried to make last minute changes to the plan, including phasing in the wage earlier, but she was shot down.
“There’s more people competing for the same jobs. Obviously teenagers lose out, people with less experience lose out, and so the solution to that is not to condemn them for that to low wages, but actually to bring them on par with everyone else,” Sawant said.
Local franchise owners are not happy with the approved plan.
Chuck Stempler with Alpha Graphics worries the higher wages will put him out of business. He says the plan is unfair. Although he has 85 employees, his company is considered a big business because it’s part of a national corporation.
“It seems to be arbitrary and discriminatory, and we would like to be properly categorized as a small business, which is what we are,” Stempler said.
The International Franchise Association immediately announced it’s filing a lawsuit to block what it calls an unfair and discriminatory plan that would harm franchisees, those who own a local Subway or McDonald’s but are considered a big business under the plan.