Murray Issues Executive Order To Move Toward $15 Minimum Wage

Jan 3, 2014

Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray has issued an executive order to move toward a $15 per hour minimum wage for all city employees.

Announcing the order at a news conference Friday morning, Murray said he has asked the heads of the city’s departments to develop a comprehensive strategy in the next four months to adopt the higher wage.

“They will explore potential options surrounding the implementation, including the possible option of making it retroactive to the beginning of 2014,” he said.

The group will work with Murray’s 25-member minimum wage advisory committee to coordinate efforts and make recommendations, which will then be considered by the Seattle City Council, said the mayor-elect.

Approximately 600 Seattle city workers are currently paid less than $15 per hour, Murray said.

Raising their pay would cost the city approximate $700,000, he said, though he stressed that was a preliminary figure. Asked how the city would fund the raise, Murray said the group would explore possible funding sources as well as potential effects.

“That’s why I’m issuing an executive order to begin the process, because there are unanswered questions that we need to understand so that we can implement this in a way so that it is fair and it works,” he said.

However, he added the county currently pays its employees at least $15 per hour, and therefore “this shouldn’t be an insurmountable issue” for the city.

“It is my belief based on just, you know, preliminary discussions yesterday that it is within the city’s capability currently, without raising revenue, to make this adjustment,” he said.

Many questions remain, said Murray, including whether city employees currently earning $15 per hour will get a raise. Also unclear was how the change would affect payment to city contractors.

Murray campaigned on hiking the minimum wage up to $15 by the end of his four-year term. Among the members of his task force is incoming Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, who also campaigned on a platform of higher minimum wage.