Income Inequality

Why I Voted No on the 2016 Budget - We Need a Budget That Meets the Needs of Ordinary Working People 
"On November 23, 2015, the Seattle City Council cast our final votes on the 2016 budget. The People's Budget movement won a number of progressive budget victories, and I was proud to vote in favor of them. But, even with these progressive amendments, the final budget package remained woefully inadequate. As a workers' representative that was elected on a pledge to stand up against business as usual politics and defend the interests of ordinary working people, I could not support the budget as a whole. For more, see my full remarks below." 

My Response to the Mayor's Budget 
"On Monday, September 28, 2015, Mayor Murray presented his version of the budget for 2016. Once again, it falls far short of what working people need. Check out my response, and join me at City Hall on October 27 for a People's Budget Town Hall to build the movement for a budget that reflects the needs of ordinary people." 

Celebrating the Anniversary of Social Security and Medicare 
"On August 8, 2015, Councilmember Kshama Sawant celebrated the 70th anniversary of Social Security and Medicare at Westlake Park, alongside US Senator Bernie Sanders, State Senator Pramila Jayapal and others. Sawant highlighted the lessons from the historic struggle that won these essential programs and discussed how it applies to today's movements for economic and racial justice." 

$15/hr is just the beginning! 
"On April 15th, Councilmember Kshama Sawant joined thousands of workers across the nation struggling for higher wages and workers' rights. The victory for $15/hour in Seattle is just the beginning. Local protests focused on Seattle University's attempts to block faculty from unionizing, and pressuring Macy's to raise wages outside of Seattle and give workers a fair schedule. Check out some video highlights from the day." 

Why I Voted No On A Business-As-Usual Budget 
"On Friday, November 14th, the Seattle City Council introduced amendments to the Mayor's 2015-2016 budget. Multiple progressive amendments were passed, including my amendments to raise all City workers to $15/hour next year, fund a year-round women's homeless shelter, and provide critical services to transitional homeless encampments. On November 24th, I voted against the budget package as a whole. You can read my press release here, and watch my speeches from the final Budget Committee meeting and Full Council vote below." 

Join Me for the Final Budget Vote - This Monday, 2:00 PM at City Hall 
"Let's celebrate our hard fought victories. But let's also make it very clear to the Mayor and the Council that a business as usual budget is completely unacceptable. We demand a People's Budget dedicated to satisfying ordinary working people's real, human needs." 

Social Justice Victories in Business as Usual Budget 
"On November 14th, the City Council Budget Committee discussed and voted on a series of amendments to the Mayor's proposed 2015-2016 budget. Alongside organizing around the need for a fundamentally different approach to the City budget, I introduced amendments to specifically address income inequality and the needs of the most marginalized and oppressed communities in Seattle." 

Voices of the People's Budget 
"On the evening of October 30th, labor leaders, community organizers, social service providers, and engaged citizens came together for a People's Budget Town Hall. Here they shared their concerns about the Mayor's business as usual budget and began a conversation about what is necessary to make Seattle affordable for all. " 

Voices of the People's Budget: Kshama Sawant Opening Remarks 
"On the evening of October 30th, labor leaders, community organizers, social service providers, and engaged citizens came together for a People's Budget Town Hall. Here are my opening remarks." 

October 30th 6pm: People's Budget Town Hall with Kshama Sawant 
"A people's budget would prioritize the needs of the majority. It would tax big business and the super-wealthy. It would build tens of thousands of affordable homes, invest in world-class mass transit to reduce carbon emissions, and invest in living wage jobs for all. It would provide adequate funding for homeless services, mental health services, and assistance for our most vulnerable community members." 

Detroit, Water Rights & the Faulty Logic of Capitalism 
"My office receives calls every week from Seattleites that are also struggling to retain their access to water. Detroit is not an exception, but just a more extreme example of the many crises and general insecurities the working class is forced to face under capitalism." 

The movement for 15 has achieved its first major victory 
"We need to be clear about what happened here in Seattle that led us to this point. 15 was not won at the bargaining table as a sensible compromise between workers and business. It was not the result of the generosity of corporations or their Democratic Party representatives in city government. What was voted on in the city council was a reflection of what workers won on the streets over this last year. Let this be our guide." 

Details about the Mayor's Minimum Wage Proposal 
"The fact that the City Council of a major city in the U.S. will discuss in the coming weeks raising the minimum wage to $15 is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice. But the Mayor's proposal leaves much to be desired." 

Responding to Recent Questions on $15/hour 
"Recently there have been questions about how to implement the $15/hour minimum wage. There's been a lot of talk from business that workers should compromise. Here are some initial thoughts." 

Town Hall on the Minimum Wage - March 5 
"The debate around the minimum wage continues in Seattle. Councilmember Kshama Sawant and 15 Now call for a $15/hour minimum wage, however the debate and discussion has taken place behind closed doors without the direct input of minimum wage workers. Wednesday, March 5, 2014 is the first time that City Council and Mayor Ed Murray's advisory committee will face the public and hear from working people from all over Seattle." 

February 15 - Day of Organizing for a $15/hour Minimum Wage 
"To win a $15/hour minimum wage, we need to organize. Big business is gearing up to spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat us. 15 Now's February 15th Day of Organizing will be a day of practical experience, of organizing neighborhood action groups and discussing the ideas and arguments for a $15/hour minimum wage." 

15 Months Later, Alaska Airlines is Still Refusing to Pay $15/hr 
On February 19 2015, I attended a pretrial rally in defense of workers and fellow organizers who are standing up to Alaska Airlines and the corporation's refusal to follow the law and pay workers the $15/hour minimum wage SeaTac voters approved more than fifteen months ago. I was proud to stand and speak with my fellow "jail mates," Reverend John Helmiere and airport worker Socrates Bravo. Check out video and text of my speech below.  

Central Co-Op Raises All Worker Wages to $15! 
Seattle workers have won yet another milestone in the $15/hour struggle! Central Co-Op, a local not-for-profit organic grocery business, has agreed to pay all of its workers more than $15/hour, starting now. 

Support $15 for City Employees, Human Services Funding, Affordable Housing, and the Fight against Income Inequality 
On Friday, November 14th, the Seattle City Council voted on its amendments to Mayor Murray's 2015-2016 proposed budget. While waging a broader struggle against a business as usual budget, I am fighting for every change that can improve ordinary people's lives right here and now, or pave the way for fundamental change in the future. 

Voices of the People's Budget: Jess Spear of 15 Now 
This is the fifth part in our series, "Voices of the People's Budget." On the evening of October 30th, labor leaders, community organizers, social service providers, and engaged citizens came together for a People's Budget Town Hall. Here they shared their concerns about the Mayor's business as usual budget and began a conversation about what is necessary to make Seattle affordable for all. 

Defend Our Victories - Fully Fund Enforcement of Labor Laws 

Transcript of my speech on the $15/hour victory 
Today's message is clear: If we organize as workers, with a socialist strategy, we can tackle the chasm of income inequality and social injustice. 
15 in Seattle is just a beginning. We have an entire world to win. 

Stand strong against corporate loopholes in Seattle's $15/hr Ordinance 
Earlier this month, I wrote to explain some of my concerns with the Mayor's draft proposalfor $15/hr. Unfortunately, since it was introduced, big business has been using council negotiations to erode the draft proposal even further, with discussion focusing around franchises, training wages and tip credit. Below are some of the resources that I have distributed to other Councilmembers to encourage an informed discussion on these important issues.