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Today Seattle Starts Phasing In The $15 Wage

A sign that reads "15 Good Work Seattle" is displayed below Seattle City Hall, right, and the Columbia Center building, left, Monday, June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure.
Ted S. Warren
/
AP
A sign that reads "15 Good Work Seattle" is displayed below Seattle City Hall, right, and the Columbia Center building, left, Monday, June 2, 2014, after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure.

For anyone who works in Seattle, earning minimum wage, this week, you get a raise. It’s a first step that will eventually lead to Seattle having one of the highest base wages in the country.

Low wage workers in Seattle will start earning at least $10-an-hour in cash compensation. Patricia Lally, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, which oversees the rollout of the new law, says thousands of post cards have been mailed to businesses explaining what they need to do.

“In addition to that you will see busses with bus ads on their sides announcing to the public that minimum wage is now here. We are printing notices for business to post in their place of business so workers know their rights.”

If workers suspect they are being cheated the city will investigate. If violations are found then employees will receive back pay with interest and the business could get hit with a fine. If a business refuses to follow the law outright,  it could lose its operating license.

Seattle isn’t the only place where paychecks for entry level jobs are rising. San Francisco is also phasing in a $15-an-hour-wage.  Starting next month, workers there will begin earning $12.25 an hour. The next increase in Seattle will be in January.

One place that already has a $15-an-hour-wage in place is Seatac. Voters there approved the higher pay in 2013. Whether workers employed at Sea-Tac International Airport will be covered is in the hands of the Washington State Supreme Court. If the court decides the SeaTac ordinance applies to the airport, which is run by the Port of Seattle, then the number of people earning $15 in SeaTac will increase to more than 6,000.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.
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