Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was denounced Monday by a socialist member of the Seattle City Council for claiming she has always supported the $15 minimum wage.
Seattle made history when it became the first place in the entire country to enact a minimum wage of $15 an hour in June 2014. Advocates have since seen victories in two states and many more cities. Clinton claimed during the Democratic debate Apr. 14 that she has always supported the movement, but Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant is not buying it.
“I was surprised to hear from Hillary Clinton that she had always supported $15,” Sawant wrote in an opinion piece for The Nation. “Even more surprising, she specifically said she supported the call for $15 here in Seattle, the first major city to pass it.”
Fellow socialist and Democratic primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also took issue with Clinton during the debate. Sanders has been a longtime advocate and even introduced a bill in July designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. He reminded the crowd during the debate that Clinton has said the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour.
“I am sure a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour,” Sanders said. “When this campaign began, I said that we got to end the starvation minimum wage of $7.25, raise it to $15. Secretary Clinton said let’s raise it to $12. There’s a difference.”
Clinton defended her stance by noting the $12 mark was meant as a step towards eventually reaching $15 an hour. Previously she had only supported states deciding for themselves whether to go higher. Sawant was an early participant in the movement and actively supported the increase as a member of the city council. The Fight for $15 movement was even a centerpiece of her 2013 campaign.
“When we started, our demand was ridiculed by Seattle’s political and media establishment,” Sawant said. “At that point, if someone like Hillary Clinton had so much as tweeted in support of $15, it would have made our work a lot easier. But she did nothing of the kind.”
Sawant added the Democratic establishment really didn’t start coming around in support until after the policy had its first victory in Seattle. She notes some Democrats seemed to be just jumping on the bandwagon out of political expediency. Nevertheless Clinton was still nowhere to be found even while the movement was gaining vast support from the left.
“The $15 train has come to the New York primary, and suddenly Hillary Clinton has jumped on board for a photo op,” Sawant said. “She has been aided by conservative union leaders who, when the victory for $15 was announced in New York, invited Clinton to speak and take credit! This has outraged thousands of workers and activists.”
Sawant is a member of the political party the Socialist Alternative. The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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