$15 minimum wage plan fast tracked in Seattle

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 6:20 PM

The push is on to fast track a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle.

Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray has assembled a team of labor, business and elected officials to deliver recommendations by May and City Council action by July.

"We have a challenge before us. Is this going to be a city of the rich or is this going to be a city that is diverse?" said Murray.

The Seattle area hit the national stage on wage equality with protests by fast food workers and a vote in SeaTac to raise the minimum wage to $15.

"It may be much higher than that," said Murray. "It's one of the things we've gotta be open to."

The 23 person committee is co-chaired by Howard S. Wright, CEO of the Seattle Hospitality Group, who outlined the challenges the team faces to reach a consensus.

"There are people on the very small business end, who are totally freaked out by this and I also think there are people on the far right, who have said don't tell me what to pay people and I'm going to move by business out of the city limits," said Wright.

Newly elected Socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant has her own deadline for council action.

"Early April has to be our deadline if we are serious about putting it to the voters because that's how much time will be needed to collect signatures and put it on the ballot."

Murray said he wants to avoid a costly labor and business dispute over a ballot initiative.

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