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The following remarks were made by Seattle City Councilor Kshama Sawant on Monday, June 2, as the council voted unaminously to pass a $15 minimum wage, the highest in the nation:
Today, workers in Seattle have made history.
A half century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for a living wage at the March on Washington, where a quarter of a million people, mostly black workers, demanded their rights. They called for $2/hr. In today’s dollars it is the same number – Dr. King and his movement had launched the first fight for 15, at the same time they fought against the brutal racism of Jim Crow.
With this vote, Seattle will become the first major city in the U.S. to win a $15/hr minimum wage.
Our victory comes less than 6 months after the launch of 15 Now, after the election of the first socialist to the city council in 100 years. We built on the work of labor in Seatac, on the growing movement of the fast food workers which began in New York one year before. We worked alongside organized labor in Seattle, which campaigned continuously for 15.
We forced the city establishment to lift the wages 100,000 low wage workers in Seattle – to transfer $3 billion from business to workers at the bottom of the wage scale over the next 10 years.