“We won!” the headline screams in an email from 15Now.org celebrating the passage out of committee of Seattle’s imminent $15 minimum wage ordinance. If this isn’t an unambiguous declaration of victory, I don’t know what is:
Seattle has now become the first major U.S. city to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage. This historic achievement was the result of a powerful grassroots movement built from below. The message is clear: When we organize we can win!
15 Now spearheaded the campaign in Seattle, and now we are building 15 Now nationwide. We spent $150,000 to win in Seattle. To take this fight across the country we need to raise another $150,000. Please donate $15, or more, to help us end poverty wages.
So, does that mean they are dropping their charter amendment to pass an even more worker-friendly $15 minimum wage in Seattle? Not so fast.
“No decision has been made about the Charter Amendment yet,” 15 Now consultant Jeff Upthegrove said on Facebook in response to my earlier prediction that the group would pivot and move on. And despite the celebratory tone in the email above, along with the apparent shift toward a national focus, 15 Now volunteers are still gathering signatures.
I know the cool kids area all cynical about Kshama Sawant’s motives and actions, but she really has tried to help build a democratic organization, and for all her influence, it’s this democratic organization with all its various stakeholders that ultimately has to make the decision to pull the emergency brake on the ballot measure. That can’t happen overnight. Possibly not by Monday. Maybe not until they’re certain of whether there’s an opposing initiative headed to the ballot.
But while this compromise ordinance with its long phase-in and its temporary tip credit certainly doesn’t meet the strict definition of $15 now, don’t think for a minute that most of these activists don’t recognize what a huge political victory this is, and how much better off millions of hard-working Americans would be if the rest of the nation followed our example.