Seattle City Council approves $15 hourly minimum wage

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View of the skyline in the city of Seatt

View of the skyline in the city of Seattle, Washington state on March 22, 2011. Seattle is the northernmost major city in the contiguous United States, and the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. The city is home to corporations such as Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the skyline in the city of Seatt

View of the skyline in the city of Seattle, Washington state on March 22, 2011. Seattle is the northernmost major city in the contiguous United States, and the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. The city is home to corporations such as Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation.

The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months. Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised during his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well.

The measure passed Monday would take effect April 1, 2015.

The plan includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move. Smaller organizations will be given seven years.

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