SeaTac, WA Living Wage
Type: Ballot Initiative
Status: Passed November 1998
Background: The Washington Minimum Wage Initiative, also known as Initiative 688, was on the November 3, 1998 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was approved. The measure increased the minimum wage from $4.90 to $5.70 in 1999 and to $6.50 in 2000 and afterwards be annually adjusted for inflation.
Historical Note: The Green Party of the US led US political parties with its proposal of "Living Wages", extending the Minimum Wage efforts, and its organizing in a number of progressive communities across the country.
The Living Wage concept and position was brought into the Green 1996 Platform (In the "Economic Sustainability" section C: Livable Income, "A Living Wage"). A Living Wage was further developed in the Green Party founding national platform - http://gpus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/platform_2000.pdf. In multiple meetings with national labor groups, before and subsequent to the Seattle WTO protest in 1999, Green representatives from the Green Party platform committee met with labor and diverse community/worker rights groups to carry forward a Blue-Green Initiative and actively organized for Washington wage initiative. The initiative and follow on proposition organizing efforts remain models for "blue-green" practices at the local/state and national levels.
See language in 1996 and 2000 Green national party platforms
See Green-organizing and model proposals/initiatives/resolutions and ordinances for local/state living wages
Note the following mid-1990's proposal for an international living wage 'foundation' adjusted for local conditions
An example of this language is put forward in the Green 1996 platform, then the 1996 Nader presidential campaign, and in many organizing campaigns including in preparation for the Seattle WTO events in 1999 with an extensive Blue-Green (labor-environmental) agenda
The following language is from the Page 63 of the 1996 Green Platform, as initially written in 1994 in Santa Fe by your GreenPolicy siterunner
- We affirm the importance of access to a livable income."
- We aim at moving people out of poverty ... a "living wage" campaign and "living wage" standard ...
- We urge that a national debate be held and broad public mandate be sought regarding (fiscal and monetary) economic strategies and policies -- and they impact wages. This debate is long overdue. The growing inequities in income and wealth between rich and poor; unprecedented discrepancies in salary and benefits between corporate top executives and line workers; loss of the "American dream" by the young and middle class -- each is a symptom of decisions made by policy-makers far removed from the concerns of ordinary workers trying to keep up.
- A clear living wage standard should serve as a foundation for trade between nations, and a "floor" of wage protections and worker's rights should be negotiated and set in place in future trade agreements. The US should take the lead on this front - and not allow destructive, corporate predatory practices under the guise of "free" international trade.
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For 100,000 working people in Seattle, a newly passed citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour will mean an increased standard of living - and recognition of their contributions to the local economy. "It's going to help me and a lot of other people..."
Since 1994, when a coalition of labor and community groups came together in Baltimore to win the first such policy, the living wage movement has spread across the United States. The basic argument behind these campaigns is that a person working full-time shouldn't have to live in poverty, a precept that has been popularly accepted. The National Employment Law Project estimates that over 120 cities have passed similar laws, including a notable win in 1998 in San Jose, California, which established the highest living wage in the nation for those who received public funds.
"No person who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty."
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