Today is the day: Seattle minimum wage begins phase in to $15/hour

Mayor Murray to join worker-leaders from Seattle's fight for $15 to mark first day of minimum wage increase

Today is the day: the minimum wage for Seattle fast food workers is rising to $11/hour —  the first step in the phase-in to a citywide inflation-adjusted $15/hour. About 40,000 Seattle workers will be getting a raise today, and about 100,000 will see raises over the course of the phase-in to $15. (For help navigating the minimum wage law, check out our new app:

It begins 9:00 am in downtown Seattle when Mayor Murray joins worker-leaders from Seattle's fight for $15 for a ceremonial event to mark the day. 

TODAY: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
9:00 am: Working Washington offices, 719 3rd Avenue

What: Unveiling of a photo display exhibit showing how workers sparked the $15 movement. Workers will share stories with Mayor Murray that are captured in the photos; and the Mayor will offer some brief remarks to begin this historic day.

Here's what workers are saying today:

With rallies, marches, strikes, and more, a workers movement transformed the fight for $15 from a slogan on a picket sign to an economic reality in the city of Seattle. Here's what workers are thinking as they see their first raises today:

Martina Phelps works at McDonald's: 
"With these raises coming, the first thing I want to do is save up for a car and have reliable transportation. Then I’m thinking about going back to college to be a surgical tech. But right now, I’m broke — this month I have to decide whether to pay our electric bill or rent. I’m lucky to have family, because 98% of my check is gone before I get it."

Chris Heath works at DESC: 
"The first thing I’m going to do when I get my raise is be happy that I can pay my rent and afford food and not worry about being on food stamps. I think it will make it easier for me to pay off my loans so I can get out of debt. Then I can participate in the economy, like buying a home and investing in my future. Passing the $15 minimum wage is a first step to bring the whole country along for a fair wage and economic equality."

Crystal Thompson works at Domino's:
"Low wages have forced my family to live in poverty. I am not able to afford to have my own place or live in a safe neighborhood. My son sleeps in the living room on our couch. I can’t afford to go back to school or drive a car, just paying the lights is a struggle at times. We are simple folk and don’t wear fancy clothing. We are forced to live off food stamps and my employee discount at work. Higher pay means possibly being able to move to a safer community, and have my own place. Upgrade to a larger apartment so my son can have his own bedroom. Be able to afford transportation. And I’d like to go back to school if possible."

Malcolm Cooper-Suggs works at McDonald's: 
"Low wages affect me the same as everyone — you can’t get everything you want, and sometimes you just have to flip a coin on the things you need. This first raise is going to make me more comfortable and feel better on the inside too. It’s been a real fight — for me it’s very symbolic, taking a stand against corporations. Most of all I remember my own doubt because I didn’t know such a thing like $15 was possible. But it is, and that’s amazing — now I think anything is possible."

Jason Harvey works at Burger King:
"The worst part of low wages for me has been having to rely on charity to pay my bills and feed myself. With higher wages I’ll be able to work for the things that I need and maybe have enough left over to take a woman on a date, treat her nice, and not have it break my piggy bank for the next six months. I’ve been part of the struggle since its beginning, and I know we won a lot faster than I was even hoping for here. The first thing I’m going to do with my raise is get a nice dinner and actually go out to a movie for the first time in more than five years."

Steve Jaeger works at a convenience store: 
"This is important to me because it should hopefully give me the means for basic human needs like food, clothing, and shelter, which I currently do not have. Any extra money would be nice — so I can afford to socialize and not just sit alone all times I am not working."

Ibby Daloush works at Wendy's: 
"With more money I can help my wife more, and my mom. Both of them live in Pakistan."

Leah Ingram works at Sally's Beauty Supply: 
"This will mean independence, and freedom from having to be supported by my mom as a 26-year-old woman. Seattle is expensive, and I have made a life here, but I can't live on my own in the city because I don't make enough to support myself, and I'm already working 40 hours a week."

Timothy Zemke works at Domino's: 
"This would help provide an opportunity for me to start a family of my own."

What happens to wages today:

  • Our What's My Wage App explains it all:
  • If you work for an employer or chain with more than 500 employees nationally, it's simple: your minimum wage is $11/hour. 
  • If you work for a smaller employer or chain, two things happen: your minimum compensation is $11/hour, and your minimum wage is $10/hour. Minimum compensation is the sum of your wage, any tips you receive, and the cost to your employer of providing you healthcare benefits. 
  • Minimum compensation is only relevant to people who work at smaller companies or chains, and phases out over time. Nobody can be paid less than $10/hour in wages, regardless of tips or healthcare.

What happens next

  • People in Seattle who work for big companies or chains that don't pay for healthcare benefits get to $15/hour on January 1, 2017. The $15/hour minimum will increase with inflation every year after that; this rate will set the standard which all workers will reach by the end of the phase in.
  • Every low-wage worker in the city will see a significant increase to their base wage each year as they get to $15/hour, and then to parity with the citywide minimum. 
  • And every worker gets to the same place at the end of the phase-in: a true inflation-adjusted $15 minimum wage — with no adjustments for tips or benefits. At typical rates of inflation, the citywide minimum for all workers will reach about $18.13/hour in ten years.
  • Yes, there will still be restaurants.


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: