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      Seattle council passes $15 minimum wage

      The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation and roughly double the federal minimum.

      The issue has dominated politics in the liberal municipality for months.

      Mayor Ed Murray, who was elected last year, had promised in his campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A newly elected socialist City Council member had pushed the idea as well.

      Council member Tom Rasmussen says, quote, "This legislation sends a message heard around the world: Seattle wants to stop the race to the bottom in wages."

      The measure would take effect on April 1, 2015. It 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.