King County Metro Transit would not let Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the 15 Now organization buy bus ads with her name on them promoting the city’s new minimum wage.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant teamed up with some labor unions and her activist organization, 15 Now, to buy King County Metro Transit bus advertisements publicizing the city’s new minimum-wage law.
She hoped the group’s nearly $10,000 payment would secure 32 ad spaces along the sides of buses for an entire month, starting Wednesday when the law went into effect.
But Metro rejected the design, which included Sawant’s name and title, citing a ban on bus ads with political content. Sawant is currently running for re-election, and the transit agency’s ad policy prohibits “advertising that promotes or opposes a political party, the election of any candidate or group of candidates for federal, state or local government offices, or initiatives, referendums or other ballot measures.”
“Our advertising policy does not allow the names of active political candidates to appear in bus ads,” Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer said in an email.
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Sawant and her supporters held a news conference at Westlake Park downtown Thursday partly to criticize the agency’s decision.
They described their ad as educational rather than political — aimed at making sure that workers in Seattle know they’re now entitled to a higher minimum wage, and they noted that Metro’s ad policy requires “paid for by” attribution on bus ads.
The city’s new Office of Labor Standards, which has been criticized for not being fully staffed for the law’s launch, bought its own bus ads publicizing the wage increase. Those appeared on buses earlier this week.
“The city and now unfortunately King County Metro have had no sense of urgency about making sure that workers are paid their rightful wage,” Sawant said. “I was extremely disappointed when Metro rejected this important ad.”
The design rejected by Metro said in large blue font: “Minimum Wage Rises April 1st,” and said in even larger red font: “We Won!”
Below, in smaller font, the design listed a 1-866 “Know Your Rights” hotline for workers to call. The hotline is operated by Working Washington, an advocacy group funded by the Service Employees International Union.
Also in smaller font, the design listed as sponsors “Councilmember Kshama Sawant,” five different union locals and 15 Now.
The group resubmitted the design Thursday without Sawant’s name. Metro accepted it, and the ads are expected to be on buses next week, Switzer said.