Seattle mayoral candidates release policy plans, woo workers ahead of Tuesday debate

2017-09-13 | The Seattle Times

Sept. 12--Cary Moon wants to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories, she said Monday.

Jenny Durkan wants to scale municipal-court fines based on how much offenders can afford to pay, she said.

Now that voters are done with their late-summer vacations and barbecues, Seattle's mayoral candidates are competing for attention by rolling out policy proposals.

Some of their plans are more precise than others, and the two agree on many points as they sometimes seek to "out-progressive" each other.

But voters may get a clearer picture of the race Tuesday night. That's when Moon and Durkan will meet for their first major debate since beating out 19 other candidates in the Aug. 1 primary.

Produced by the Seattle University Project on Homelessness and Solid Ground, with The Seattle Times and Crosscut as media sponsors, the sold-out "Changing Seattle" debate will stream live on The Seattle Times Facebook page starting at 7 p.m.

Leading up to the clash, Moon has pushed out a multi-point plan for improving the lives of working people.

In addition to prohibiting employers from screening job applicants based on their salary histories, Moon says she wants the city to:

--Require city departments and Seattle businesses with more than 100 employees to annually collect anonymous pay data by gender, race and ethnicity.

--Require employers to pay the same wages to similarly employed men and women with comparable skills.

--Create a Freelancer's Bill of Rights, including a requirement that freelancers be paid within 30 days of completing their work.

--Ban employers from forcing their employees to sign noncompete agreements, with some exceptions.

--Create a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, including requirements that domestic workers get meal breaks and at least one rest day per week.

Moon is endorsed by SEIU Local 925, which represents child-care workers, and by SEIU Local 6, which represents janitors and security guards.

Last week, Howard Dean's Democracy for America political-action committee endorsed her.

Durkan also has vowed to create a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and has said she would consider new protections and benefits for gig-economy workers.

The former U.S. attorney last week laid out a plan to connect more Seattle residents with union jobs in the building trades.

For instance, Durkan wants to expand the Priority Hire program, which reserves a percentage of jobs on some city projects for people who live in local neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment rates.

Durkan is endorsed by a slew of union locals, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce's political arm.

On Monday, she released a criminal-justice reform agenda. Among other things, Durkan says she would:

--Bring jail-diversion programs such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program to all five police precincts.

--Work with other levels of government to provide incarcerated people awaiting release with a single system for obtaining benefits.

Whatever happens in the Nov. 7 general election, it looks like Seattle will remain a national laboratory of sorts for policies backed by the labor movement.

In recent years, the city has mandated paid sick leave, passed a $15-per-hour minimum wage, sought to help Uber drivers unionize and regulated the scheduling of retail workers. A Domestic Workers Bill of Rights could be next.

Moon and Durkan each spoke out against President Donald Trump's move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has helped 17,000 people work and go to school in Washington state.

And both candidates launched new online commercials. Moon's ad says she's "independent from the political establishment," while Durkan's spot highlights her promise to provide free community college for public-school graduates.

Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or dbeekman@seattletimes.com. Twitter @DBeekman