On Seattle Establishing an Office to Enforce Its $15 Minimum Wage

Seattle, WA—The National Employment Law Project (NELP) applauded Mayor Ed Murray’s announcement today that the City of Seattle is establishing a Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to ensure that the promise of a pay raise from Seattle’s $15 minimum wage becomes a reality for low-wage workers in the city.

In June, Seattle made history by becoming the first major city in the nation to adopt a $15-per-hour minimum wage. But research, enforcement statistics, and the lived experience of low-wage workers show that wage theft—i.e., when an employer fails to pay minimum wage or overtime , or fails to pay workers for all hours worked—cheats low-wage workers of up to 15 percent of their annual pay. The erosion of the real value of the minimum wage is a significant factor contributing to today’s burgeoning economic inequality; wage theft only exacerbates the problem.

“Today, Seattle becomes only the second city in the country to have a dedicated office focused on delivering both fair pay to its lowest-paid workers and a level playing field to its businesses,” said Christine Owens, NELP’s executive director. “Seattle has outlined clear next steps for itself: first, an outreach plan to ensure all Seattle workers and employers learn their rights and responsibilities under the law, and second, bringing community-based groups into partnership with the city. The next step for other cities is to follow Seattle’s lead.”

A key feature of the plan, agreed to by a labor-management committee convened by the Mayor’s office, is the creation of public-private partnerships that enlist community groups in education and outreach. The importance of engaging the community in labor standards enforcement is the subject of a forthcoming NELP report to be released next week.

Emma Stieglitz
(646) 200-5307

Related to

The Latest News

All news