High court upholds Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance

WASHINGTON (PAI) – The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Seattle’s $15 an hour citywide minimum wage ordinance, handing a judicial win – even if only in one big city – to the “Fight for 15 and a union” movement.

The win came when the justices refused to hear a challenge to the law from the International Franchise Association, the lobby for franchise chains. Four justices must vote to even hear a case, and the lobby didn’t garner that many. Lower courts had ruled against IFA.

Advocates for low-paid workers and their rights hailed the court’s ruling. Paul Sonn, legal counsel and co-director of the National Employment Law Project, told the Associated Press it shows the courts are not willing to stand in the way of the growing movement for a $15 hourly minimum and unionization. Seattle was one of the first big cities to enact such a law.

And Sage Wilson of Working Washington, one of the many local groups – including the Washington state labor federation – that pushed for Seattle’s ordinance note that not only does it help low-paid workers, but it boosts the local economy.

And, contrary to the franchise lobby’s claims, recent studies in the Seattle area have shown employment increases, not decreases, among low-paid workers after the ordinance passed, he added.

Under Seattle’s law, businesses employing fewer than 500 people have seven years to reach the $15 threshold. Large employers who offer health insurance get four years for the phase-in; those who don’t offer it get three.

Photo: We Are Working Washington



Press Associates Union News Service provides national coverage of news affecting workers, including activism, politics, economics, legislation in Congress and actions by the White House, federal agencies and the courts that affect working people. Mark Gruenberg is Editor in chief and owner of Press Associates Union News Service, Washington, D.C.