The "Small Business" Face of a Campaign to Oppose a Higher Minimum Wage
It is hard to put a sympathetic face on a political campaign to pay workers a poverty-level minimum wage, but Scott Ostrander, the general manager of Cedarbrook Lodge, is doing his darndest. "I'm shaking here tonight because I'm going to be forced to lay people off for something that's not their fault," a woeful Ostrander said at the July 23 meeting of the SeaTac City Council. If SeaTac's Proposition 1 passes—mandating a $15 an hour minimum wage and other benefits for airport, car rental, and hospitality workers—the consequences, says Ostrander, will be beyond his control.
"I'm going to take away their livelihood," Ostrander threatened before embracing the empathetic flip side to his paternalistic role: "God that hurts. It really, really hurts."
Poor, poor Scott Ostrander.
Ostrander has testified that his workers "all get two meals a day, complimentary." Paying a higher minimum wage could force him to stop feeding his workers. Which is sad, says Ostrander, because "sometimes that's the only meal they get." (Is he saying that his employees sometimes can't afford meals on their low current wages?)
Ostrander and his committee did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
As the cochair of Common Sense SeaTac, the industry-backed PAC opposing Proposition 1, Ostrander has been all over the media lately. The 117-employee Cedarbrook Lodge is "a very small business," Ostrander was at pains to repeat during his July 23 testimony, "one of the smallest hotels in SeaTac, and not a multinational large corporation." At a July 16 town hall, he said, "We represent the working, the retired, the taxpayers..."
But you know who else Ostrander represents? Members of Seattle's wealthy Wright family—owners of the Space Needle and the adjacent Chihuly museum, not to mention Wright Hotels, which operates 40 hotels in 15 states, including the Seattle Sheraton, the Marriott Waterfront, and Ostrander's "very small" Cedarbrook Lodge. The Space Needle itself is in the midst of its own ugly labor dispute, resulting in unfair labor practice charges from the National Labor Relations Board—a federal trial started September 17.
So that is the true face of SeaTac's "No on Good Jobs" campaign—Seattle's Space Needle and the millions of dollars of out-of-state corporate money bound to pour into their PAC.