Murray's Hidden Meetings

Mayor Holds Talks on $15 an Hour Minimum Wage

Murray's Hidden Meetings

The city's new Income Inequality Advisory Committee, convened by Mayor Ed Murray to tackle the issue of raising Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour, has been meeting for a few weeks now. Labor and business leaders, the most vocal advocates and opponents of raising the wage, are sitting at the same table and discussing what many consider to be the paramount issue facing the city this year.

But if you want to know how it's going, you're going to have to be patient. The meetings are happening completely out of the public eye.

Why a secret task force? Murray's communications director, Jeff Reading, says, "In order to gain the full and candid input of the advisory committee participants—a group that represents a broad and diverse range of interests—we felt that some element of confidentiality was necessary." He says some future meetings will be open to the public and a schedule is coming soon.

It's perfectly legal to have private meetings—the same way the mayor and his staff meet with lots of members of the community, says Reading—and to be honest, it's probably smart. It's likely that members can get more bargaining done if they're not worried about grandstanding.

But you deserve a goddamn say, right? Well, the Seattle City Council, which operates under more strict open-meetings rules, is offering you just that.

Last week, the council announced it would create a special committee of all nine members solely to consider the minimum-wage issue. Unlike the mayor's committee, it will be very public (aired on TV and anyone can sign up to testify).

Chaired by Council Member Sally Clark, the committee is intended to ready the legislative body to move quickly once it gets a proposal from the mayor, in the hopes of avoiding ballot measures on the issue. They're also going a step further: Clark says in order to "maximize the ability for people to participate," they'll hold some meetings in the evenings and in places other than City Hall.

Council Member Kshama Sawant, for her part, calls the minimum-wage committee (an idea she proposed in December) "a step in the right direction." recommended


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collectivism_sucks 1
A fifteen dollar an hour, UNPAYABLE WAGE is bad for everyone.
First, immigrant businesses, who don't have the cash on hand to suddenly pay a 60% increase in minimum wage, will be run out of business. Big corporate businesses, meanwhile, may actually be able to pay $15/hour and will fill the void left by the small business that close (a disproportionate number of whom are owned by non-white immigrants) want a Seattle filled with McDonald's, Wal-marts and other corporate cookie cutter business? Support the 15/hour wage

Second, it discriminates against low skilled workers. If two people apply for the same job, one fresh out of school and one with experience, and the boss has to pay either one of them 15/hour to start, who do you honestly think is getting the job? 31,200 a year is very risky for many businesses. With that wage, they can only afford low-risk applicants, i.e., high skilled employees. If this happens, there will be an entire class of unemployable people in this city.

Third, it also discriminates against young people, minorities and people with felony convictions. If a felon and a non-felon apply for a job that, by law, requires 15/hour, who is more likely to get the job? If a young person with less skills because they haven't been around long enough to get the skills and an older person with skills both apply for the same job, who is getting it if the employer has to pay 15/hour? Also, we all know African-Americans are the first fired and last hired. If this passes and the inevitable layoffs come as a result, who is most likely to lose their jobs? You guessed it: people of color.

Fourth, this is a city we're talking about, not a state or country. If I want to open a business serving a Seattle metro clientele, where logically will I open up shop: Seattle proper of Shoreline, Burien or Bellevue? If I go to a neighboring city I can have the same clientele with 60% less labor. As a result you can expect a big decline in demand for commercial real estate in Seattle that will have an impact in many other sectors, just as the residential real estate crash had a ripple effect on the economy.

Fifth and most of all, it's all about making jobs illegal. What if a restaurant owner calls for a meeting and gathers the entire staff together. She says "look, I can't afford to pay you all $15/hour. What I can afford is $10.50. I can either pay you all that or shut down and you won't be paid anything." Now, lets say the staff understands enough math to get that $10.50 an hour is more than $0 an hour and they agree to work for that. What happens to them when the police find out? Answer: they, and their employer, gets arrested. Force is used to break up a voluntary agreement between adults. How is that justifiable?

What this is is a bunch of authoritarian-statist politicians trying to force us all to get the same deal the workers at Hostess got: not accept anything but what can't be paid and accept loosing a job that pays less. I would much rather keep working for what I'm making than have some politician take my job away.

I'm a damn adult. I can decide for myself what I can and cannot accept as starting salary. I don't need Sawant or any other racist, authoritarian, socialist goon telling me how to live.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on January 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM · Report this

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