The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a measure Monday to raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour over the course of seven years — the nation’s highest.
Some businesses will have the plan phased in sooner, depending on the size of the company and whether workers receive tips in addition to their salary. Minimum wage is currently $9.32 per hour in Seattle.
After the plan is fully implemented, the minimum wage will then be tied to the Consumer Price Index, which estimates the minimum wage will rise to $18 by 2025.
“Once again Seattle has chosen to collaborate and Seattle workers are going to get a raise,” Murray said at a Monday news conference.
The U.S. federal government’s minimum wage is $7.25. For more than a year now, fast food workers across the country have been protesting for a higher minimum wage.
At $15 an hour, Seattle’s minimum wage will be one of the highest in the world. Australia’s minimum wage works out to be just over $15 when converted to U.S. dollars. Switzerland rejected a ballot initiative on Sunday to raise the minimum wage in the country to $25 per hour, which would’ve been the highest in the world.
Seattle’s plan calls for large businesses with more than 500 workers to pay $15 an hour by 2017, if employees don’t also receive health care. If they do, those businesses have until 2018 to raise the minimum wage.
Small businesses with fewer than 500 workers will have until 2019 to reach $15 an hour, if they do not offer benefits or tips. All other small businesses will be required by 2021 to raise the minimum wage to $15.
Advocates in Seattle who have petitioned for a higher wage, including 15 Now, have criticized the long phase-in process. On May Day in Seattle, activists were arrested for protesting in support of immigration rights and a minimum wage boost.