Sawant Increases Pressure for New Minimum Wage

New city council member Kshama Sawant and her supporters at Socialist Alternative have recently upped their endeavors to support the drive for a $15 minimum wage by launching a new website: According to the website, Sawant and others have decided to create the website in order to “strengthen the grassroots movement for a $15/hour minimum wage.”

A quick scan of the website reveals an initiative to spread information and rally support for Washington’s proposed minimum wage increase, which entered into public debate after the SeaTac initiative last November found voters in favor of an increase in both wages and benefits for hospitality and transportation workers. The measure was also discussed in conjunction with a number of protests conducted by fast food workers in the area. Statistics and information about the proposed wage increase can all be found under the “Facts and FAQs” section of the website, which outlines the manner in which low-wage workers have suffered since 2007’s economic crisis. It notes, for example: “58% of new jobs created between 2010 and 2012 were low-wage, according to the National Employment Law Project.”

The website also confronts a number of arguments being repeated by conservative opponents, particularly those that refer to the supposed threat to business owners that the measure poses. It points out, for example, that most corporate CEO’s make exorbitant salaries, and that the distribution of wealth in their organizations is grossly disproportionate. It also refers to a number of studies that have debunked the oft-toted myth of rampant inflation that supposedly coincides with raises in minimum wage.

Notably absent, however, is any complex discussion of the effects the raise would have on small business owners, which is perhaps one of the more compelling arguments against the raise (though, in this writer’s opinion, not compelling enough to outweigh the benefits of a living wage.) It does, however, advocate that the “billions on handouts and tax breaks for giant multinational corporations such as Boeing and Goldman Sachs” be transferred—via subsidies—to small businesses in order to ease the transition to the new wage.

The website also held a rally last Sunday at the Labor Temple on first avenue to drum up further support for the increase. According to the Seattle Times, there was a relatively large turn-out for the event, with a crowd of approximately 400 people arriving to show their support. The article also notes that pledged financial support to the campaign: “said she’d give $1,250 a month — $15,000 a year from her annual $120,000 council salary — to the campaign.” and that the majority of the attendees were older.

If anything, both the creation of the website and the turnout of the rally show a rising support for the minimum wage hike. However, the Facebook “likes” on the page only reached 122 and—though this is hardly a hard-and-fast piece of evidence for the measure’s popularity—it does bring up questions about the amount of energy the average Seattlite will be interested in devoting to the issue. Regardless, the city will soon be in a position to put its “liberal” sensibilities to the test.