Ignore the Fearmongering

Seattle's Coming $15-Minimum-Wage Ordinance Will Not Be the Small-Business Killer Some Fear

Ignore the Fearmongering
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As popular support for a $15 minimum wage continues to grow, Seattle's small-business community has grown ever more fearful.

In an open letter to Mayor Ed Murray and the task force he's assembled to study the minimum-wage issue, the Broadway Business Owners Association recently declared that it "unanimously opposes a $15 minimum wage," asserting that "a 60% increase in employee wages would create an extreme hardship," forcing the closure of some small family-owned businesses.

It is a fear that restaurateur Dave Meinert—who insists he supports raising the minimum wage—was quick to repeat. Sitting in the bar at Capitol Hill's Lost Lake Cafe, which he owns, Meinert counted up his fixed costs and thin margins before declaring: "If I had to go to $15 across the board tomorrow, I'd close."

But it is unlikely to come to that, for a number of reasons.

First, Meinert was equally quick to walk back from his suicide note, emphasizing that he'd try raising prices, cutting hours, and other adjustments before shuttering Lost Lake's doors. (Meinert is also an owner of the 5 Point, Big Mario's, and the Comet.) Even in a $15 minimum wage Seattle, demand for bars, restaurants, and retail wouldn't disappear, and some enterprising business owners would figure out a way to profitably meet it.

Second, the immediate across-the-board jump to $15 that many small businesses fear is not likely to happen. "We know we're not going to get everything," says Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant about coming negotiations over a minimum-wage ordinance. "But the way you win battles is to bargain hard, win everything you can, and then fight another day." Some have criticized Sawant's campaign as divisive and inflexible, but those aren't the words of somebody who is unwilling to compromise.

So what might Seattle's minimum-wage ordinance look like? SEIU Healthcare 775NW president David Rolf, who cochairs the mayor's task force, expects a "variable rate phase-in" to be considered, in which different industries or businesses of different sizes might hit $15 at different times—for example, fast-food restaurants might see an immediate jump to $15, while restaurants like Lost Lake might phase it in over a number of years. There may also be exemptions for small businesses (SeaTac's minimum wage exempts businesses with fewer than 10 hourly employees) and for nonprofits. Meinert, who is a member of the task force, argues for Seattle's minimum wage to consider "total compensation"—a formula based on wages, tips, and benefits.

"It's super complicated," says council member Sally Clark, who chairs the council committee considering an ordinance. She expects the council to pass a "nuanced" measure that considers the needs of small businesses.

But one thing that appears to be set in stone is the number. "Fifteen dollars is incredibly popular," says Rolf. So it's not as much a question of if we get to $15 but how—and which businesses and what time frame. "A conversation about how to get to $15 is incredibly fruitful, resistance to $15 is not," warns Rolf. But that, echoes Meinert, is a conversation that he is happy to have: "It's not the number so much as how we get there."

So don't expect Lost Lake—or other small businesses—to be shutting their doors when a wage hike passes. recommended


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Amazing - a three hour interview discussing the many nuances of the minimum wage, and that's the result?

In the interview, Goldy (who I like a lot), made one thing clear - The Stranger is highly invested in Sawant looking good no matter what, and "making the other side's arguments for them" wasn't something The Stanger would do. Or rather, anything that lends credence to an idea outside of the party line won't be uttered in The Stranger.

Goldy seemed to suggest that he didn't think $15 across the board immediately is a good idea. And it seems almost no one on the $15Now leadership actually does either, but rather that it's a bargaining position that will get significantly rolled back.

I would also put out there that when Rolf says $15 is a popular idea, he is putting that out there as part of his positioning for negotiations, holding up the threat that there could be a $15 initiative. I personally think an initiative with a $12.50 MW with no exemption for collective bargaining would pass over one at $15. But we'll see I guess.

End of the day, I'm glad we're talking about income inequality, low wage jobs, and solutions to both. I have favored raising the minimum wage for years. I agree with Obama and Inslee that it needs to go up. But it sure would be nice if there was a liberal media outlet that would allow for an honest, deep conversation about the costs and benefits and different options for how it could happen.
Posted by Meinert on January 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM · Report this
Goldy 2
@1 Well, I had 500 words to cover four interviews. Not the space available to really get into the meat of our conversation. But I'll go more in-depth on the issue on Slog.

Also, to be clear, what I've said is that I am invested in helping Sawant succeed. And I'm speaking for myself, not The Stranger. It's not about making her look good. It's about helping her be good.

Finally, I think you underestimate popular support for $15. If the business community can't come to some sort of compromise that gets most workers to $15 over a reasonable phase in, then there will be a $15 initiative written without their input, and my guess is that it does pass.

But again, I don't think it will come to that. You've got a reasonable argument to make about tips, and I think that Rolf is right that it would be more fruitful to put your efforts there than to fight for something lower than $15.
Posted by Goldy on January 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM · Report this
camlux 3
What about waitstaff who don't get minimum wage now? How much in actual "wages" (not including tips) would they make with $15 and hour?

What about exemptions for agricultural workers? How would that be affected?
Posted by camlux on January 29, 2014 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Goldy 4
@3 Do we have agricultural workers in Seattle?
Posted by Goldy on January 30, 2014 at 8:15 PM · Report this
What about people making $15/hr right now? Or $20/hr, for that matter. These people are unlikely to see a correspondingly large wage increase. In effect, a $15/hr minimum would decrease their wages in the sense that their buying power would go down as prices go up. This issue does not seem to have made it into the discussion already. For example, teachers of all kinds would not see such a large increase, if any. I would expect the largest opposition to this sort of market manipulation to come from people in skilled positions whose wages are unlikely to see an increase. And fair enough, why should they?
Posted by registeree user: anonymous coward on January 30, 2014 at 11:21 PM · Report this

We have a winner - excellent point.

Posted by Mr. X on January 31, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
where is the motivation to do any better or move up if you are making 30.5k per year straight out of high school waiting tables or working the cash register at a grocery store? The biggest problem is that backers don't really understand economic policy and what it would do to those around them, also those same workers will lose jobs to more skilled workers that come in from other municipalities for the fifteen dollars an hour jobs now,why would a manager keep a person employed that has a smaller skill set or less experience when they can get a much better worker for the same price since they are being forced to pay it?
Posted by The Artful Dogger on January 31, 2014 at 6:15 PM · Report this
@5, 7
Motivation? That is such a strawman. And it's fearmongering too. Their "motivation" is to be productive and valuable enough to continue earnng more than minimum, no matter where that is set. If they are earning more than minimum now, their pay is already categorically above that. Reducing the gap does not mean those who make more are more or less valuable. Anyone can ask for a raise, it does not mean they will get it.

This is a floor, not a ceiling.
Posted by Nemo on February 1, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
@8 I would say supporting ultra Keynesian policy that has been proven wrong time after time is more of a strawman, look at what happened in San Jose, reduction in hiring, slow business growth ect. what do you think is going to happen when these little firms are at 8 employees and cant sustain at 15 an hr right now but they need to grow to stay competitive? they are going to pack up and head elsewhere, taking tax dollars and lots of other benefits to our community with them, anyone can ask for a raise and go elsewhere if they don't get one. you don't see the big picture because you are too focused on getting more rather than earning more, the franchises that are owned by local businesses that often have managing operators will not be able to sustain a 60% increase in labor costs and still be profitable wich will lead to the rise of mega corporations only being able to keep people employed, so Sawats attempt at socialism will ultimately end up being a great opportunity for the 1% she is always bitching about being the only ones who can continue to employ people.
Posted by The Artful Dogger on February 1, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
JonnoN 10
@9, see title and content of article.
Posted by JonnoN on February 1, 2014 at 4:54 PM · Report this
@7 -- are ya joking? 30k a year is a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. IN SPOKANE. It's probably a step above hand-to-mouth in the Seattle-Tacoma metro. People have plenty of motivation to be busting butt to get beyond that wage.
Posted by MameSnidely on February 1, 2014 at 5:06 PM · Report this
@ 10 please do some research before echoing someone else's false statements, this is going to be a job killer plain and simple, the same things that are being called for have already been shown to be ineffective and do not work.
Posted by The Artful Dogger on February 1, 2014 at 5:08 PM · Report this
@5 -- yeah, I agree. That is a problem and I have no idea how to resolve that. But this seems like a step in the right direction regardless.
Posted by MameSnidely on February 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM · Report this
@11 then move or get a better job, your standard of living in Spokane is miles above people in other parts of the world who don't have things like 911 and clean water from a tap so take a second and look at the big picture, why should I be forced to pay more so you can do a think less task that you think is hard, I wont eat fast food if it costs 25% more and that will be repeated by lots of people so you will lose jobs, I know welders that make 15 an hour and they have physically demanding jobs that require years to master and they don't bitch because they worked to get that 15, they didn't have to have someone legislate it for them, I make 12 an hour and survive just fine in Seattle while going to school to get my masters with ZERO public assistance and no help from my parents or family because I'm a former foster child, so if your 30k a year job is not enough is Spokane maybe you should look at adjusting your spending habits.
Posted by The Artful Dogger on February 1, 2014 at 5:22 PM · Report this
You guys, at first I was with you and was going to jump on @7 for suggesting that living on 30K a year is too good for those serve his food and should toil in poverty to learn a good lesson about motivation.

But wait! Now I see what he's really saying! He's saying on $30K a year, life is so good that nobody could possibly want or need more. @7 is suggesting we tax at 100% all income over 30K, because what is the point? How many diamond encrusted toilets can one waitress even fit in her mansion?

Thanks, @7. Your position may be unpopular, but it is so brave.
Posted by Kiznit on February 1, 2014 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 16
If any of these arguments against raising the minimum wage are valid, then they are just as valid in arguing that we must lower Washington's $9.32 minimum.

Buying power will increase! Small businesses will expand! Non-profits will blossom! Unemployment will drop! Because everyone knows deflation is the path to economic nirvana!

If you think it's justifiable for Washington to go on having the highest minimum wage in the nation, then is it really so untenable to catch up with inflation a little? Especially with Obama pushing to increase the Federal minimum by 40% -- which will leave it still behind where inflation should have it.

A $15/hr minimum is what workers used to make back when the country had a healthy middle class. That's why 15 is the right number.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on February 1, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
There is a lot of evidence that raising the minimum wage by 10% or so won't have much if any net negative effect on employment. And it will help people at the bottom of the income scale. So we should do that, no question.

Above a 10% increase, we'll start to see a negative effect on employment, and an increase in prices. This is primarily because small businesses will close, and the ones that don't, will raise prices. New businesses will have a tougher time opening as it will be more expensive, and will have a harder time staying open (about 50% of new businesses fail in their first 5 years, and this number will be higher).

Of course the quicker we raise the minimum wage the more negatives we'll see, and at some point they'll overcome the positives.

But do the Socialists care about small business owners? They are the evil ruling class right? And their staffs are slaves who should be freed!

And no one should worry about the effects higher prices have on the majority of the poor, who don't have jobs and so won't see income increases. The government, which is flush with money, will just pay out more benefits. Right?

I agree with Goldy that we most likely won't see Sawant and the Socialists propose $15 immediately, across the board. I expect that since they are seeing so much evidence and pushback against $15 now, they will propose some exemptions, and and phase in over a few years. So instead of a 62% increase by 2015, expect 20% increase per year. And an exemption for labor, since they are behind the scenes funding this, and they don't want a higher minimum wage unless they are exempt and so can use it to get more dues paying members.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 5:33 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 18

If only you guys had thought years ago to increase it by 10% every once in a while. Then it wouldn't have been such a shock. I guess you weren't feeling like you had to. From where you sat, everything seemed hunky dory. Why change?

You might want to catch up to something: this isn't a fringe Socialist proposal anymore. All the Democrats have jumped on board too, from the Mayor down. You're really on defense now.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on February 1, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
@16 - you're partially correct. The current $9,32 minimum wage here is lower than the MW was in 1968, which was the year the MW had its highest historical buying power. In today's dollars that would be $10.37. So we should go to at least that. I think you can add to that an adjustment for Seattle's higher cost of living, so maybe $12.50.

Here's the thing. This isn't a choice between the socialist proposal and doing nothing. We can have a minimum wage in Seattle that is the highest in the world without killing small business. If we went to $12,50 over the next 4 years, and counted total compensation in that $12.50, and didn't exempt anyone, we'd have a solid proposal that would lift people's earnings significantly and not harm the non-working poor, small business, child care, non-profits.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
And why exactly should nonprofits be exempt? People who work at nonprofits have different needs, hopes and dreams?

Virtue does not pay bills
Posted by Fluffy on February 1, 2014 at 5:53 PM · Report this
There are more than 110 municipalities aroun d the country that have enacted Living Wage ordinances. The hourly amounts vary, depending on local political difficulties and cost of living in each community. However, NONE of them have experienced loss of jobs. None.

Meinert, I challenge you to live on $9 an hour for two months. If at the end of those two months you still feel no one should make more than that because it would depress the economy (or whatever other straw-man argument you need to make), then you'll be listened to.
Posted by sarah70 on February 1, 2014 at 6:01 PM · Report this
@20 - I think non-profits should be exempt for a few reasons, or at least phased in at a far slower rate.

First because non-profits can't just raise prices to get more money. They have to go out and get donations. And that's already very, very tough, and will get tougher when the people making donations will also be facing suddenly higher prices.

Second, many social service non-profits get their funding from King County and the City of Seattle budgets. These budgets are already stretched to the max. If those social service providers have to suddenly raise wages at 20% or more per year, they will have to cut very important social services - as in mental health care, homeless shelters, job training for people coming off the street or out of jail, etc, etc.

$15Now initially proposed an immediate increase to $15 with no exemptions. I think since they and Sawant put that forward, they have become aware that there actually are many negative effects their plan would have, and will propose something with several exemptions and phasing. So it seems they agree with me to some extent.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 6:04 PM · Report this
@21 - first, you're wrong. Look at the recent study on the effects of the San Jose increase. Second, I agree with you that $9.32, the current Washington State minimum wage is too low and we should raise it. I also agree with how the Living Wage movement has done this elsewhere. So let's learn from those other places. That's all I'm saying.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 6:07 PM · Report this
every young artist type I know [lots of them] works part-timish jobs for close to 15 bucks an hr; just enough to get by. If the new bottom is 15 and the cost of living changes accordingly won't these artsy bums be forced to go full-time [and probably start settling down and shitting out dependents like this proposal encourages?]
Posted by you just want everyone ON THE GRID on February 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM · Report this
I see Goldy's writing on the minimum wage a lot and his angle is so confusing to me. I can understand getting behind the $15/hr minimum wage, but Goldy seems to continually take the position that ANY suggestion that the $15/hr minimum wage could possibly have a SINGLE downside for anybody but giant national chain owners is ridiculous and unfounded.

Um, no. It's obvious that, unless you're forcing employers to hire people, the minimum wage will have negative effects on employment. When the minimum wage goes up, employment goes down and so does employment growth. Especially among teenagers and people without high school degrees. When the minimum wage goes up, low-margin businesses have to raise their prices and/or close. Some of the people hurt you maybe don't care about, but some of the people hurt are those who are already not well off. These results are 1) good common sense, 2) good economic sense, and 3) backed up by a whole lot of empirical data and research on the minimum wage. The research finds that these effects are pretty small around current rates, but they ARE there (and how big would the effects be at much higher rates like $15? Probably bigger, although nobody knows precisely!). Goldy doesn't have to guess or assert what the minimum wage does, social scientists haven't been sitting on their hands for decades.

I'm a labor economist. I like the minimum wage, I think the positives (poverty reduction, e.g.) outweigh the negatives (although $15 does make me worried about the future of Seattle workers without high school degrees). But if you think there aren't any negatives at all, including negatives for some of the people you're intending to help, then you're just poorly informed.
Posted by Tang on February 1, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this
we should stop kissing the ass of small business; greedy small businesses are a hindrance to real progress. Starbucks and Target are much more dedicated to fair hiring practices [as is government which can pick up the slack when we get rid of small businesses]
Posted by becausehateisntafamilyvalue! on February 1, 2014 at 6:28 PM · Report this
maybe we quit giving 10% of our income to the federal government instead? I don't think you can argue with a fair cost of living increase but an immediate 60% is not fair to small business or people that have 2 subways and work 16 hour days just like their employees, If we quit reckless spending at the federal level and end corporate welfare this wouldn't be such an issue. All I see is a bunch of people wanting more right now without realizing the consequence of it, 15 an hour leads to more taxes going to big brother to spend 90k a hellfire missile to kill entire families of non combatants in countries we're not at war with, but hey you got your 15 bucks an hour.
Posted by The Artful Dogger on February 1, 2014 at 6:33 PM · Report this
theophrastus 28
here's another reason that raising the minimum wage only makes good cents. as a nation we're near the bottom in minimum to median compensation. Slovenia does a better job of looking after its people in this regard than we do. so you can argue the vague cause and effects all you like, but there's no question we're currently doing badly relative to developed world. we really should want to do better than this if we want to think we're special in the world, and if you don't think we're special, don't you think we shouldn't be specially bad?
Posted by theophrastus on February 1, 2014 at 6:35 PM · Report this
@21 - Do you have links to the various pieces of evidence you keep citing? Ideally from reliable, neutral sources rather than places like conservative think-tanks and the Department of Commerce, but I'll read anything.
Posted by rcrantz on February 1, 2014 at 6:42 PM · Report this
@29 - sorry, that should be @23
Posted by rcrantz on February 1, 2014 at 6:44 PM · Report this
@23, are you referring to the 'study' by the 'Employment Policies Institute'? The one discussed here:…

Don't you think it is a little disingenuous to make bold statements about how San Jose's minimum wage increase has been catastrophic when it is based on a highly biased survey of a small subset of San Jose's businesses?
Posted by randoma on February 1, 2014 at 7:02 PM · Report this
@27, Raising the minimum wage will lower the biggest corporate subsidy in the country - Welfare. You'll notice that I refer to it as a Corporate Subsidy, not a subsidy for the poor.

Also, referring to your post @14, most union welders make significantly more than $15/hour. And, raising the minimum wage will not increase the price of fast food 25% - more like 5-10%.
Posted by randoma on February 1, 2014 at 7:09 PM · Report this
@21 - first, you're wrong. Look at the recent study on the effects of the San Jose increase. Second, I agree with you that $9.32, the current Washington State minimum wage is too low and we should raise it. I also agree with how the Living Wage movement has done this elsewhere. So let's learn from those other places. That's all I'm saying.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Minimum wage payers don't have medical coverage for their employees (Dollar Stores and many others) if that $1.00 item goes up to $1.25 I would still buy it. If my burger basket goes up by .50c I'm still gonna buy it. These large corporations and even small business can pass the cost on to the consumer, which won't be much. And also shame on them for working their employees part time so they don't have to give them medical ins. Crooked bunch of greedy republican assholes.
Posted by longwayhome on February 1, 2014 at 7:30 PM · Report this
As a regular patron of the Lost Lake and big fan of Sawant, this article hit me in the gut. When I need a satisfying hot meal in the neighborhood I have to choose between paying rather a lot over on 15th at one of the tech-popular restaurants, $40 or $50 if you add in a few drinks--versus a delicious well-cooked chicken parmesan for maybe $12 at Lost Lake (which bar none is the most stylish restaurant in the city, being at once spartan and cozy and completely satisfying to the belly). But shit, if they had to close in order to do their employees justice, then they'd have no employees. And the likes of me would always have to be ripped off for a good meal in the neighborhood.
Kshama, you are the sexiest politician alive today, but we got to work this shit out!
Resolved: keep the Lost Lake open forever, give 20% or 25% tips when you can, and take good care of the non-tipped dishwashers.
Posted by rocksandtrees on February 1, 2014 at 7:51 PM · Report this
@34 - there are many people who pay under $15 who offer benefits. And many of the people getting paid minimum, like servers, bartenders, sales people, even some steel workers, get paid commissions, profit share, tips, etc.

One of the principles small business would like to see is one that was first put forward by the living wage movement - that the minimum wage should count total compensation. So at a higher minimum wage, tips, commissions, and other direct benefits like health insurance and retirement, be counted as part of the wage. Again, this is an idea the UFCW, SEIU, and the living wage movement has promoted. It would also mean you don't need to exempt small business nor labor.
Posted by Meinert on February 1, 2014 at 7:52 PM · Report this
“why exactly should nonprofits be exempt”

Because Goldensteinemberg knows $15 a hour would be a job killer for non-profits. Funny that.
Posted by Mercer Island Goy on February 1, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
“why exactly should nonprofits be exempt”

Because Goldensteinemberg knows $15 a hour would be a job killer for non-profits. And those are his friends.

Funny that.
Posted by Goldy's hypocrisy stinks like his marriages on February 1, 2014 at 8:05 PM · Report this
“These large corporations and even small business can pass the cost on to the consumer, which won't be much.”

Rent will go up too, right? All those extra dollars chasing rental properties.

You know what they call that, moron?


Then pretty soon that $15/hr ain’t much.
Posted by Mercer Island Goy on February 1, 2014 at 8:13 PM · Report this
So, after this $15/hr minimum wage is established, can we start the campaign to convert WA state to rely more on an income tax than these nickel and dime taxes and fees, etc. That would do a huge amount to even make a compromise $13/hr wage actually spend more like $15 .
Posted by ChefJoe on February 1, 2014 at 8:26 PM · Report this
But it is funny to see Goldy post something titled "Ignore the Fearmongering..." . That's what goes through my mind everytime I see one of his "Guns" posts.
Posted by ChefJoe on February 1, 2014 at 8:28 PM · Report this
@35, when it comes to the point of comparing your right to get a great but cheap meal at a restaurant v. the right of restaurant employees to be able to support themselves, I have to go with having you pay a little more for your great meal. Amazing though that may seem to you.
Posted by sarah70 on February 1, 2014 at 9:57 PM · Report this
Does no one recognize that while a min wage increase may increase business cost, it will also equally increase spending power for potential customers? Seems to be a critical consideration that I rarely see posited after the "wah wah poor business owners" argument.

I can confirm that there is no reason to expect someone making $30k will lack motivation to increase their income. And I'll argue that $12.50 in 4 years will hardly keep up with inflation.

A job that's not worth paying a human a living wage to do, is not a job worth wasting a human life on. Valuation of wages must not only consider the relative difficulty of the work, but the value of the life asked to perform it.

Economists decades ago predicted that technology and increasing productivity would eliminate the need for everyone to work 40hrs/wk. We're there now. All of our basic needs are met with something like 1/2 to 2/3 of able bodied adults working full time outside of the home. But the gains in productivity have not been shared equally. Rather, the decreased supply of paid labor from those holding capital along with the increasing number of unemployed has driven wages down and expanded inequality. This trend appears to be structural in a capitalist system and regulations like min wage laws can at best only mitigate. $15 is the bare minimum we should consider. Real solutions to inequality will require more radical action.
Posted by Upchuck on February 1, 2014 at 9:58 PM · Report this
" it will also equally increase spending power for potential customers"

And when that drives up prices (inflation) including rents in Seattle, what next, price controls?
Posted by Caracas on the Sound on February 1, 2014 at 10:07 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 45
#40 what will happen when a state income tax kicks in is all those smaller fees and taxes will just stay there. Few taxes ever go away, new ones are added on top. I'd be all for a state income tax when the small ones you mention are shut down. But that won't happen. $15 an hour MW. Okay let her fly. One of two things will happen, they'll be paid $15 an hour or Zero an hour with no job. There can be no middle ground.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 1, 2014 at 10:10 PM · Report this
Ernie1 46
Remember when all the small businesses were going to go out of business if they had to provide a week of sick leave? Did that happen? I might have missed it.

This is a similar issue, if the dishwashers at Lost Lake get paid a few bucks more the prices will have to be increased a little to make up for it. It is likely that people who can afford to eat out at places like Lost Lake will continue to do so even if it costs a couple bucks more. If a small percentage of those folks decide that that's the final straw and they are going to stop going out to eat, they might be replaced by some of the workers who are making $5 more an hour and can suddenly afford to get a beer and a meal out once in a while.

It could turn out kind of like Henry Ford paying his workers enough to buy a Ford.
Posted by Ernie1 on February 1, 2014 at 10:10 PM · Report this
So, if the minimum wage goes up to $15, Dave Meinert will have to make do with only owning two or three businesses?
Posted by tiktok on February 1, 2014 at 10:47 PM · Report this
DOUG. 48
I can't believe the 5 Point is owned by this guy. It really bums me out. I first went there in 1992, and have been going fairly often ever since. But the more I know about Dave Meinert and his anti-labor bullshit, the less likely I am to ever return. And that bums me out. Shit.
Posted by DOUG. on February 1, 2014 at 11:04 PM · Report this
Someone has to pay for those $20 burgers and baggage handling fees.


Give IT Professionals a Big Pay Raise

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 1, 2014 at 11:15 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 50
If that Bollywood Bolshevik and her IDIOT FOLLOWERS get this passed, I am packing my working class, African-American, bisexual, born-poor, restaurant working ass out of Seattle, taking my guns and a supply of BC bud, along with my Rothbard, Lsyander Spooner and Milton Friedman books and I'm moving to Houston.

I would LOVE to see a socialist try to run for something in Texas. Go ahead, push a 15/hour wage on everyone in Houston, see how far it goes.

Go ahead, enslave the population with this racist, anti-immigrant minimum wage push. Make Seattle look like Detroit, complete with unions driving jobs out of state. Make your FAILURE an example for the rest of the country.

Oh, and 15/hour isn't extremely popular. It's only popular among hipsters. Everyone else thinks its a bad joke, that's why it only passed in Seatac by 77 votes out of over 6,000 cast. Nobody in Texas wants it, I can tell you that now.

I'll miss the mountains and forests but I can learn to love the bayous, gulf and The Sam Houston National Forest.

Just better get out while I can...socialists have a habit of locking people into cities they destroy:

Hey...Texas looks better and better every day:…
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 12:53 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 51
If you haven't noticed, these socialists aren't the brighest bulbs in the fixture. I should know...I use to be one. I was a card carrying member of CPUSA and then the SWP, and I can tell you they are all fools.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 12:56 AM · Report this

Dave Meinert is a generic, entitled, exploitative douche who has somehow managed to build an internal narrative that makes him out to be a person. Stay away. Stay very far away.

If things were so bad for him, he would be building a safe, Bellevue empire. But he's doing just fine here in Seattle, and will continue to do so.
Posted by Yo. on February 2, 2014 at 1:18 AM · Report this
@50: Reported for trolling, asshole. I don't expect perfect civility on an Internet forum, but I'd rather people didn't trigger my PTSD. Do us all a favor and move already.
Posted by Tyro on February 2, 2014 at 6:35 AM · Report this
@25 -- are you really a labor economist? How much does that job pay per hour? Or are you a volunteer labor economist?

Seems like a cushy job.
Posted by six shooter on February 2, 2014 at 9:15 AM · Report this
The blackmail tactic seems really short-sighted. Goldy and Sawant seem to say:

"Pass a sensible wage increase or we'll throw an Initiative Party and the masses will pass an inflexible version"

I can see no possible way in which this strategy might backfire.
Posted by six shooter on February 2, 2014 at 9:28 AM · Report this
I'm okay with Lost Lake closing, so long as they pass on the recipe for their rosemary potatoes to a business that actually can take care of its employees first.
Posted by treehugger on February 2, 2014 at 9:39 AM · Report this
Westlake, son! 57
Dave Meinert has forgotten his own labor is free, not $15. If he applies his own labor to keep his businesses open then he can keep his profits. If he's bourgeoisie and lives off exploiting other men, then yeah, he might suffer a bit like his workers.
Posted by Westlake, son! on February 2, 2014 at 9:39 AM · Report this
I don't understand this progressive writer who says he thinks that if we do an initiative it will pass -- so therefore, we should ask for less and settle for less in a compromise. lard it up with a host of exceptions for small business. phasing in differently for large and small. exempting nonprofits and adding in tips -- all of this just creates a swiss cheese system in which 20 to 50% of all workers get screwed and the employes can play all kinds of enforcement games. "Oh, actually see we cut to nine employees just before the law went into effect!" do you want to lower employment that way? it's a crazy passive kowtowing approach.

if we can beat the opponents at the polls, let's put up the fucking initiative and vote it in. Why ASK other people for PERMISSION if you think we have the votes call a fucking vote. get some balls. stop giving in with compromises if you have the votes. it's stupid to do that.
Posted by how to lose power on February 2, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
many small businesses have very high profits. many large businesses have low profit margins.

if we are concerned about small business facing difficulties, aren't the difficulties of the low wage workers greater?

aren't low wage workers our smallest businesses?
Posted by the smallest businesses on February 2, 2014 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Cascadian 60
I agree that tips should count toward the minimum, but since reporting tips fully is hard to enforce, there's no way to write a law that does that. But business owners can get the same result by telling customers that tips aren't accepted, and raising prices accordingly. If labor is half of costs, a 50% rise in wages is a 25% rise in prices, not that much more than the standard tip, particularly when including productivity increases for higher paid workers. In the end it's a wash. Considering that workers will be able to buy more, demand is also likely to go up.

Including other benefits as part of minimum wage is a bad idea. For stuff like paid time off, you are effectively not paying people. For health benefits, rising costs get counted as income even thoug they impart no actual increase in benefits.
Posted by Cascadian on February 2, 2014 at 10:16 AM · Report this
chinaski 61
@58 because there is no way in hell 15 would pass a popular vote and then the " movement" would be dead.
Idiots like Goldy are attempting to silence any opposition by shame. doesn't matter, the opposition has already made their move at the state level. The democrats who appear to be hopping on board are simply obeying their corporate masters who have no reason to speak publicly.
in the end, the min wage will get a phased bump to 12.50 or so, which is pretty reasonable.
Posted by chinaski on February 2, 2014 at 10:37 AM · Report this
@61. that it would pass is your opinion; the comment is not directed at you. if you think it won't pass then it's not illogical to compromise. the comment was directed at the writer who says he thinks it will pass. so in that case it's illogical to compromise with power.

you say in the end it will get a phased bump to 12.50 which is reasonable. no it isn't. because when it reaches 12.50 in your scenario, we will have had a bit more inflation meaning it will be the SAME minmum wage as in 1968 adjusted for inflation thus no adjustment for the fact of higher productivity, more education, etc. or for the fact our top halfers are doing WAY better than they were in 1968 adjusted for inflation.

finally, your politics is weak, too. if you want $15 put on the fucking initiative. don't just SAY you will. START DOING IT. this is what convinces people you will do it. this is what then pushes the opponents and naysayers and fearmongers and scaredy-cats to shift and go higher. if you want $12,50 the best way to do it is ask for $15, demand $15, write it up, no exceptions, file the initiative NOW and Sawant why aren't you doing this??!! then have a mass meeting to recruit volunteers at the labor temple with 600 people screaming and getting on TV and telling THEIR stories. See, until you mobilize the media is just going to repot poor dave meinert's tale of woe, he might have to ban tips tell customers they don't have to tip and ask customers to pay more instead of tipping! omg, what a horrible fate! till we put it on file and start really threatening that initiative the media won't ask the low wage workers for their stories! I would like to see a lost lake server tell us how it's great to live on a $9.50 wage and hope that in the week before rent is due the tips are there. hope that she doesn't get sick twice that week because the paid sick leave doesn't apply to tips does it. hope that there isn't a snowstorm that week keeping customers away. hope that that isn't the week that the baby gets sick as even with obamacare there are copays. hope that the utility rate hike doesn't kill her ability to pay rent, hope that the landlord doesn't jack up the rent, and hope that she can scrounge enough so her 18 year old daughter doesn't have to drop out of SCCC and get a job too. what about their stories? let's look at the lost lake balance sheet and tax return and the owner's portfolio of assets and tax returns then look at the household balance sheets and tax returns of the servers before jumping to the conclusion that if a business is small, it can't afford it. I bet it can afford it a lot more than the worker can afford to live on the current min wage.

all the exemptions and small business thresholds should not be included. it's hard to count employees. and small doesn't mean nonprofitable. non profits, too, manhy of them have plenty of cash, they're paying it in HUGE salaries......why should the gates foundation not pay its janitors the minimum wage? its food servers. many nonprofits are churches with huge endowments. many nonprofits are housing themselves downtown, they could move to lake city. paying people $9 an hour just creates more customers of social service nonprofits, it's exploitation and if we have the votes to end it let's stop negotiating right now, file it and get the signatures and vote it in. and if we do that the movement and threat that creates will only ADD to the negotiating pressure and give us a better result out of the committee and the council. fuck it sawant won an election promising $15 I would not let the opponents devil detail us to death with the exemptions exceptions phase ins and carve outs. what if small business loses two or three employees just before the law takes effect to get under the threshold number of employees? then we get unemployment that way. why give an incentive to small business to FIRE PEOPLE???? that's crazy. and the state isn't going to stop this, duh, you need the gov to sign off he fucking won't dare to sign a state preemption law.
Posted by file the initiative now. on February 2, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Goldy said he thought it would pass. If you think it will pass, the point was, go ahead and pass it, why accept something weaker?

a bump to 12.50 isn't even an increase really compared to the 1968 level adjusted for inflation. so once again business whining would dominate, combine with progressive's and democrats lack of balls, and produce the bare minmum change to keep a lid on -- but not to really boost that low wage sector to where it should be.

now say you fear an initiative would not pass. even then the smart move is file it and start pushing for it, pay for signatures, there are months till the vote, and in that time this pressure will get you to 12.50 or higher quicker than we will get without this pressure.

workers are often misled by their leaders. In this case, Sawant and the dems pushing for this. There's no reason not to fucking file the thing no -- with no exceptions -- maybe just a two year phase in -- because you want this fight to be finished in time for the 2015 elections when you also can boot a few more incumbents, organize liberals and poor people, and elect a council that will do it, just like we elected Sawant. Why hold back from using the tools you have in your hands? Why ask pretty please of dave meinert? why don't we pay attention to what our smallest businesses need, that is, the low wage workers and their struggling families? why do we hear from meinert, but not from them?
Posted by file it. now. on February 2, 2014 at 11:26 AM · Report this
chinaski 64
ok 62, I guess you need the No such thing as santa talk. A socialist getting one seat in an anyone-but race does not a socialist mandate make. Big money still runs this town, have no illusion if you want to be effective.
Posted by chinaski on February 2, 2014 at 11:36 AM · Report this
@54 - I do alright, I'm certainly not getting rich off it.

I like that you think my salary has anything to do with the recorded effects of the minimum wage. Also that you think "this policy has some downside" is controversial, when all policies have downsides.
Posted by Tang on February 2, 2014 at 11:44 AM · Report this
@50 if you're an African-American fan of Murray Rothbard, who wrote an entire article praising David Duke and arguing that libertarians needed to embrace the far-right, then Texas is definitely the place for you.
Posted by thearistaios on February 2, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 67
Murray was a douche when it came to his associations, but he himself was actually for Civil Rights. His whole thing was that Libertarians would be better off in an alliance with paleoconservatives, even if they disagreed on a lot.

And Houston is no more racist than Seattle.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 1:15 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 68
I hope the council votes it down, lets it come up to popular vote in a referendum, and it gets badly defeated. It only passed in Seatac, where the whole issue was the airport, by 77 votes out of nearly 6,000 cast. I don't know what makes Goldy think it will pass easily here in Seattle.
And Sawant herself, who was essentially running on the 15/hour as the center of her campaign, won by less than 1% of the vote against an opponent who hardly seemed to try.

When every small business in Seattle has a sign in its windows that say "vote no or we'll have to close" and every business in Seattle puts money down to stop it and people actually wake up, this will be defeated and the left will have egg on its face.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
@66 You haven't researched Rothbard very much. This is the same man who said "Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error." Rothbard was also a fan of the Bell Curve and was a self-described racialist. He was quite hostile to rights for African-Americans and women.

Having lived in both Houston and Seattle for 10+ years, I disagree. Certainly there is plenty of racism in both, but in Houston it was much more acceptable to make out-and-out racist remarks.
Posted by thearistaios on February 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
@66 PS - Enjoy your BC bud in a state with some of the most draconian drug laws in the country. Enjoy living in a state that wants to outlaw abortion, that would prefer to outlaw homosexual relations if only the Supreme Court would allow it. A state that is actively working to make creationism a core curriculum. The endless shopping mall, strip malls and chain restaurants.

I speak from experience when I say that Texas is largely a cesspool.
Posted by thearistaios on February 2, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
@ 64, listen up. big money has way too much influence... but still... we just had an ELECTION in which an unknown former two time loser bear a four time winner backed by the establishment by FOCUSING ON THE ECONOMIC ISSUE: THE $15 min wage.

and what else?

oh, the mayor said he supported it too. The winning candidate for mayor.

That's TWO elections won or helped to win by support for $15 an hour.

many leftists are actually doomsayers and don't know power when we have it. "everything sucks, and don't hope to actually win" lots of people enjoy losing tremendously, so much they won't fucking push the god damn ball over the goal line when that is in sight!
Goldy said we can win the vote. If we can why in fuck are we negotiating a weaker version with business?
and what if we lose? well BEFORE we have the vote this pushes business to move toward our position.
"what is this thing power? ooo yuck, we're leftists, we don't like power, we prefer to lose and not even try to use our power" is the song too many sing amigo.
Posted by if win vote why compromise? on February 2, 2014 at 4:49 PM · Report this

so if you're right, there's nothing to lose in making the effort right, and it sucks up business dollars on an initiative campaign making them less available to use in the 2015 council elections.

in politics, the advice you propound -- "don't try to win on the issue you care about!" -- isn't sage.

also -- the candidates supporting the min wage hike just won. the mayor's race had lots of big money in it, too. if you haven't noticed the issue of economic inequality is rising to the fore and it's not just business waking up it's low wage workers waking up, it's seattle's rich liberals waking up and they're vote for it too. did you notice Obama in seattle got like 80 percent? the min wage is likely a winning issue. but sure, line up all business against it, pour money into it, get the DSA and the chambers outraged. class war bro, bring it on, yes we understand that the rich who don't get it and their lackeys will oppose a just wage. bring it fucking on. in fact, if a minimum wage is bad for employment, I dare you to put up a movement to LOWER the minimum wage. go ahead, put your money where your mouth is. What do you think the minimum wage should be -- nothing?
Posted by bring it on, collesucks on February 2, 2014 at 4:56 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 73
@69 I've read plenty about Rothbard. His only real issue was believing the Bell Curve, even though he expressly claimed it didn't justify discrimination. He was a supporter of Malcolm X and anti-discrimination his entire life. mention of Lysander Spooner? Was he also a "racist"? Yep, running with John Brown has "white supremacy" written all over it...
And how about socialists racism? Like Che, who was a racist homophobe and yet Sawant has pictures of him on her campaign shirts. Socialism is, by its nature, white supremacy: its a bunch of racist white intellectuals saying people of color can't run their own community and need a big socialist government to run it for them.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 11:07 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 74
If you bothered to actually click on any of the links I provided, you'd see that Rick Perry just said he wants to fast-track decriminalization. As for gays, Houston just elected a lesbian mayor. How is that "homophobic"?
And how about Seattle, where I can be arrested for using a plastic bag, free speech is curtailed, I may have my job voted out of business and the food is disgusting? A place where I'm surrounded by anti-individualist morons all the time?

I've been to, high crime, hot, flat, hot, with poor air quality...and did I mention it's hot? Still, it has its charm and, more importantly, no socialist establishment that wants to run my life.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 2, 2014 at 11:12 PM · Report this
The low-margin businesses that depend on low skilled labor will simply move outside of city limits. The ones that have to stay will either go out of business or have to raise prices. The ones that do stay will be able to demand more skilled and productive employees for their $15 an hour jobs, and competition for these jobs will be fierce as people who live outside of Seattle will now be competing for them. Low end housing prices will rise due to inflation.

Beware of simple solutions to complex problems.
Posted by StrangerThingsHaveHappened on February 3, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 76
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 4, 2014 at 12:52 AM · Report this
There is no question that low margin businesses who employ MW are planning their exodus, limited by lease expirations.
Watch the retail commercial lease rates rise in areas just outside the city limits, that's when you'll know.
Posted by Tard on February 4, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
I was making $12/hr in 1989, working as a banquet waiter in a San Jose convention hotel.

And people wonder why the economy hasn't recovered yet.
Posted by phil1234 on February 6, 2014 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Collectivism sucks - just leave already.
Posted by ShampaK on February 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM · Report this

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