Seattle voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Following suit, California also proposed a minimum wage increase to $13 per hour.
Last week, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to approve an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The state of Washington already has the highest state minimum wage in the country at $9.32 per hour. (San Francisco has the highest city minimum wage at $10.74.)
The new minimum wage will increase on April 1, 2015, and increase each year thereafter. As it’s structured, businesses with more than 500 employees will reach $15 per hour in 2017. Smaller businesses will reach $15 per hour by 2019. The advocacy group for Seattle estimates the increase will affect more than 100,000 workers. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said, “Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages” and address the “widening gap between the rich and the poor.”
According to the International Franchise Association, a Washington, D.C. based business group that represents franchise owners, “[t]he City Council’s action today is unfair, discriminatory and a deliberate attempt to achieve a political agenda at the expense of small franchise business owners.” The group plans to sue to stop the ordinance.
Small business owners are concerned because even though they won’t be required to increase wages as quickly as businesses with 500 or more employees, in order to compete with the big businesses, they will be forced to pay the increased wages to retain good employees.
Meanwhile, in California, the State Senate approved a measure that would rise minimum wage in from $8 an hour to $13 in 2017. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Leno states that “[i]ncome inequality has been spoken of by our president as the defining challenge of our time…It is our tax dollars that are subsidizing the largest corporations paying these poverty wages.” The bill was approved by a 21-12 vote and sent to the California State Assembly for consideration.
This proposal is on the heels of California's already rising the minimum wage of $9 per hour on July 1, 2014 and $10 on Jan.1, 2016. Many California businesses are afraid that the increase in the cost of their workforce will require them to layoff good employees.
Counsel to Management: For questions concerning minimum wage, please contact the Saqui Law Group.