Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/794/17959
Seattle: '15 Now' minimum wage campaign launched
On 12 January, 450 people in Seattle attended the rally to launch '15 Now', an organisation set up to carry forward the campaign to secure a $15 an hour minimum wage in the Washington state city and across the US.
Seattle Socialist Alternative councillor Kshama Sawant, who was elected in November with $15 an hour being one of her main demands, pledged at the rally to give $15,000 a year from her councillor pay to the campaign.
Many people at the meeting said what it was like trying to live on the current minimum wage of $9.32.
Socialist Party Ireland TD (MP) Joe Higgins received some of the loudest applause at the rally when he called for democratic public ownership and socialist change.
The campaign already had an impact before the rally. Seattle's mayor has issued an executive order to make $15 the minimum wage for the 600 city council employees.
Kshama has called for this measure to also immediately apply to the thousands of city contractor workers.
But, as Kshama said: "Most importantly, the message to take away from today's announcement is how impactful grassroots movements can be, and how rapidly change can happen when working people rise up and make themselves heard.
"Workers, low-wage workers in particular, can play the decisive role in winning a $15/hour minimum wage for all of Seattle. This needs to be done by building an independent mass movement."
The rally has been covered by:
- Kiro 7 TV channel (see http://bcove.me/rz6qkx36 )
- The Seattle Times (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022658141_wagerallyxml.html )
- Kiro radio (http://kiroradio.com/listen/9966156/ )
- King 5 TV (http://www.king5.com/home/Hundreds-gather-in-support-of-15-Seattle-minimum-wage-239849591.html )
- KUOW radio (http://kuow.org/post/15-now-kshama-sawants-new-minimum-wage-campaign )
- Seattle PI (http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/01/12/15-minimum-wage-rally-no-phasing-in-sawant/#18619101=0 )
- mynorthwest.com (http://mynorthwest.com/11/2431799/Socialist-city-councilmember-launches-15-Now-campaign-for-15-minimum-wage )
The full rally can be seen at www.socialistworld.net.
Left-wing documentary maker Michael Moore has also featured Kshama's inauguration speech on his website.
More action is being planned for Martin Luther King Day on 20 January.
The star performer - finally taking the stage after two hours of speech making - was newly elected Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant. Her message: No compromise.
"They've already started talking about phasing it (the $15 wage) in over many, many years," Sawant told the crowd, which numbered 450 people at the start of the rally.
"Nooooo!!!!!!" came a chorus of responses.
"We don't want any phasing in," declared Sawant.
She denounced both major political parties as tools of big business, and urged the audience to draw the "correct political lessons" of last year's election.
The $15 wage victory in SeaTac [another city in Washington state], and her win in Seattle, were products of "worker organizing."
In The Socialist 15 January 2014:
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