Seattle city council member: ‘Socialist strategy,’ not ‘Democratic establishment,’ won $15 minimum wage


Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant on Thursday spoke on how she successfully campaigned to get a $15 minimum wage in her city and said she does not expect the Democratic Party to pass a federal minimum wage increase.

Appearing on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Sawant spoke with host Krystal Ball on her successful efforts in getting a $15 minimum wage passed in her city and what she thought about the chances of such a measure passing federally. Seattle passed a $15 minimum wage in 2014, though the measure would take a few years to go into full effect.

Ball noted that several high-ranking Democratic lawmakers, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va), do not support a wage increase.

“We’re going to see even more obstacles in the question of $15 an hour federally, because there will be fierce opposition, as you said, from Republicans, many Democrats and from big business themselves,” Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative political party, said. 

“15 did not win because of the Democratic establishment, which controls the city. When we started, there was one vote on the city council for $15 an hour. That was me,” Sawant added. “We won with the labor movement, with united struggle involving labor activists and community groups and socialists. But at the end of the day, it was the socialist strategy that was the winning strategy.”

President Biden listed raising the minimum wage among his goals when he campaigned last year. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation thilasts week with the support of 37 other Senate Democrats that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 over five years.

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