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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Leader of Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Movement is in Town Tonight

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 2:44 PM

If you're at all interested in the push for a higher minimum wage in Portland—or even if you're convinced its Communist nonsense that will sink the economy—there's a good opportunity this evening to get a sense of the movement.

Kshama Sawant, the Socialist who won a surprising upset last year to earn a seat on the Seattle City Council, is in town to rally for the issue that spurred her to victory: a $15 minimum wage. Sawant will take the stage with Nick Caleb, who's vying for long-time City Commissioner Dan Saltzman's seat in the May primary (Caleb and other candidates need to hold Saltzman below 50 percent of the vote plus one to prompt a November run-off between the top two vote-getters). The rally's at Westminster Presbyterian Church, at 6:30 pm. Here's the flier.

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As we've reported, the $15 hour movement has roots in New York City, but has gotten most traction in Seattle. But the effort's been hugely contentious there. A committee formed to study how best to move toward a $15 wage broke apart this week after members couldn't reach consensus. Seattle's new mayor, Ed Murray, plans to release his own plan today. In case no agreement is reached, the group 15 Now—closely affiliated with Sawant—has filed a ballot measure it could put before voters in November.

Obviously, the discussions in Portland look nothing like that, but Caleb's candidacy has forced movement on the part of established politicians. Both Saltzman and Commissioner Nick Fish have said in recent they'd be willing to fight a state preemption preventing the city from establishing its own minimum wage.

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