About 24 hours after President Barack Obama floated the idea of a national wage hike in his State of the Union address, Seattle’s Central Co-op grocery store announced that it has become an early adopter of the city’s $15 an hour minimum wage.
The new wage agreement, announced Wednesday night, will provide all Central Co-op employees with a $15.36 starting wage and health benefits, regardless of union membership. That's up from the store's previous $11.20 an hour entry-level wage, which rose to $12.20 after a new employee’s 60-day trial period.
Dan Arnett, the general manager of the popular Capitol Hill grocery store, says he hopes the move promotes a fair and equitable workplace. “We want to run our business with the cooperative values recognized internationally.”
The deal, which was reached through negotiations with the UFCW 21 union, was officially signed Thursday morning, seven years earlier than required under the new city ordinance, but actually went into effect for Central Co-op employees January 1st.
Though Arnett said the deal hadn’t been a quick one, he had only good things to say about the UFCW 21. “They’re a great partner.”
“It’s a problem to have people not sharing in the success of a company,” said Arnett, who said he hopes the rest of the country might take notice of what’s happening in Seattle.
Seattle Central Co-op joins a short list of businesses in Seattle already offering $15 an hour minimum wage, including Tom Douglas restaurants and Ivar’s.
But how much does the Co-op’s wage hike owe to the City Council ordinance? According to Arnett, not as much as you’d think.
“Before that [ordinance] came out, two years ago we were already looking at it.”