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Murray: No Committee Consensus Yet On Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Proposal

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The committee exploring the proposal to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 has not reached a consensus, Mayor Ed Murray said Thursday.

Murray, who had called a news conference to unveil a plan for raising the minimum wage, said the Income Inequality Advisory Committee had not yet reached a firm agreement. He added the negotiations are ongoing.

“I’d rather get it late and get it right than rush it and get it wrong,” he said.

The committee members have reached an agreement "in principle" on several issues, including the dollar figure of the proposed wage and that a higher wage should be phased in for small businesses and non-profits, the mayor said.

"No one has walked away from the table, much to my surprise,” he said.

Lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour would result in a 61 percent jump in the wage floor from the state’s current minimum wage of $9.32. The proposal has been the signature issue for Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party who won a city council seat last fall in an upset of a longtime incumbent.

The mayor has faced a ticking clock to present a recommendation to the city council. Activists have said they plan to get a city charter amendment on the November ballot that would lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour for large businesses and phase it in for smaller businesses and nonprofits. On Saturday, the group 15 Now plans to hold a national conference in Seattle to decide whether to kick off a signature-gathering campaign.

Business owners have balked at an immediate increase to $15 an hour, saying they’d have to hike prices, reduce worker benefits or lay off employees to adjust to the higher labor costs. Labor activists have pointed to research showing that more than 100,000 workers in Seattle, and about one-third of Seattle residents earn less than $15 an hour in a city where rents have been increasing at one of the fastest rates in the country.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.