SeaTac/Seattle Minimum Wage Project
In November, 2013, the small suburban city of SeaTac passed Proposition 1, authorizing a $15 minimum wage policy phased in over several years; after surviving a lawsuit filed by business groups, the policy went into effect in January, 2014. Six months later, the Seattle City Council, led by socialist council member Kshama Sawant and Mayor Ed Murray, expanded a similar $15 minimum wage policy to nearly 20,000 workers. These policy innovations arose from struggles by a broad coalition of labor unions and community partners around a host of issues concerning low wage workers’ rights in the years following the Occupy movement. Building on similar struggles for and by low wage workers around the nation, the victories in the Puget Sound catalyzed a proliferating array of campaigns to raise the minimum wage in many cities and states.
This digital web archive documents the stories of those involved, as supporters and opponents, in or affected by the struggles over a $15 minimum wage at SeaTac and in Seattle as well as the broader, ongoing effects and efforts at a national level. Faculty Profile: Michael McCann and Archivist Profile: Conor Casey.
The SeaTac Campaign
In 2005, Alaska Airlines fired nearly five hundred union baggage handlers and replaced them with workers employed by contractors. Whereas the unionized work force had earned around thirteen dollars an hour, the new employees working for a host of private contractors lacked union representation and earned only about nine dollars an hour.
Seattle: $15 Now
The passage of Proposition 1 in SeaTac in late 2013 proved to be a catalyst of enormous dimensions. Just six months later, in early June, 2014, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a $15 minimum wage policy recommended by Mayor Ed Murray’s appointed Income Inequality Advisory Committee; the 61% minimum wage increase was scheduled to be phased in over seven years.
As SeaTac and Seattle passed new minimum wage policies, workers organized for protests over wages and working conditions around the Puget Sound – at WalMart and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, and among hotel and farm workers in many sites. Around the nation, dozens of states and scores of cities and counties experienced similar campaigns to raise the minimum wage.