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Seattle City Council, facing $230M budget gap, approves raises for city workers

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(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council has approved a new labor contract with city employees to increase wages by 9.7% through 2024 as the city continues to work on a budget gap of at least $230 million.

The labor contracts approved by the city council on Tuesday impact more than 7,000 city workers represented by 16 unions. It ends over 17 months of contract negotiations between the city and its workers.

The four-year agreements with the 16 unions span from a retroactive start date on Jan. 1, 2023 to Dec. 31, 2026.

The agreements translates into a bump in pay for approximately 11,000 workers by between 4% and 5% each year until 2026. Because the raises are retroactive to 2023, most workers will immediately see a 9%-plus pay increase.

The wage increase for 2025 would be based on a two-year average of the consumer price index for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area, with a 2% floor and a 4% cap. In 2026, the wage increase would be calculated in a similar way, but with an additional 1% increase with a 3% floor and a 5% cap.

According to a memo from Ben Noble, head of the city council’s central staff, the city’s projected budget deficit will grow from $230 million to over $245 million in 2025, as a result of the agreement. This is because the cost of the agreement with the Coalition of City Unions exceeds the amount held in reserve for the General Fund by $10.7 million for 2025.

“As we face these difficult fiscal realities, we must continue to honor the hard work from our city employees and continue to offer them a fair compensation package,” Seattle City Councilmember Dan Strauss said during Tuesday’s city council meeting. “We are losing talented workers [and] we are losing our frontline workers to these other government entities because we haven’t passed this deal.”

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