News

Signature Gatherers Are Trying to Repeal Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage

And, According to Watchdogs, They're Not Always Being Honest

Signature gatherers are now roaming this city and talking about our new $15 minimum wage, so let's be totally clear, Seattle voters: If someone standing outside your Trader Joe's wants you to sign something regarding the minimum wage, no matter what they tell you, they're probably trying to repeal it.

How do we know? Because all the other signature-gathering efforts related to $15 are done. The group 15 Now, which a while back was collecting signatures to raise the minimum wage to $15 faster, isn't doing that anymore. And the group Forward Seattle, which originally pushed a slower, $12.50 in 2020 measure, isn't running with that, either. (Both of those efforts sought city charter amendments, but then our city attorney read up on the law and decided that citizens can't actually send charter amendments to the ballot except in odd-numbered years—yes, really. As a result, both efforts fizzled.)

What rose from the fizzling is an attempted referendum on the $15 minimum wage that the city council unanimously passed last month, and that Mayor Ed Murray has since signed into law. This means people out right now gathering signatures, backed by Forward Seattle, are trying to undo the city's wage law by putting it on hold and placing it on the ballot in November. (A referendum basically says, "We don't think you should've passed this law, and we think voters should decide on it directly.") Based on city law and the number of voters in the last mayor's race, Forward Seattle now has until July 3 to collect 16,510 valid signatures—which means more than that in total, in case some of them are repeats or not registered voters.

That's not very long, and by the time you're reading this, their time could be up. Nevertheless, Forward Seattle is pushing hard—too hard, according to Working Washington, a labor-backed group that says it has recorded Forward Seattle signature gathers giving false information to voters. In one recording, posted to YouTube by Working Washington, an alleged signature gatherer can be heard telling an interested citizen that signing will help raise the minimum wage in Seattle, that the city council hasn't yet voted on $15, and that a $15 minimum wage hasn't been legalized yet—false, false, and false.

Another thing to watch for in this wild world of direct democracy: Two other efforts are under way to place measures on the statewide ballot that could invalidate Seattle's new wage law. One is aimed at this year and seems unlikely to gather enough signatures by the July 3 deadline. The other, backed by Tim Eyman, is aimed at 2015. recommended

 

Comments (19) RSS

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Nick CapHill 1
Small business in Seattle do not cause income inequality. I totally disagree with The Strangers stance on this and their shitty sensationalists articles, like this one.

I talked to ome of those Forward Seattle's petitioners and I thought it was professional and honest. Nothing like this article suggests.

Obviously The Stranger in general is in support of the 15/hr experiment which is why it writes so many fluff pieces on this. I have lost so much respect for this magazine after the whole 15 hr support.

Hopefully once this experiment issue gets over, they can go back to writing snot-nosed pieces on music and lifestyle - stuff I like. Ha.
Posted by Nick CapHill http://thestranger.com on July 2, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 2
I spoke to a signature gatherer during the Pride Festival on Broadway last Saturday. She was polite, but when I pointed out that 15 Now was not gathering signatures, and that Labor so far supports the actions of the Council ... the signature gatherer's response? "We just want to make sure the voters have a chance to decide."

It was a total bluff. Not a lie, but misleading as to the intent of the signatures she wanted. I talked to her for a few minutes, and pretty much handed up every argument in this article to her. She bristled as I went through the bullet points of how I knew she wasn't gathering sigs to support a $15 min. wage.

But, she was polite. I was happy I made my point, and I walked away. I kind of wish I had parked myself next to her and warned every person that she approached about the bullshit she was pulling.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 2, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 3
Oh, and BTW, she never ever gave an inch to reveal the intent of her organization other than that it was "to let voters decide."

I asked if her organization was against the increase. She wouldn't confirm or deny. I asked who was behind the signature drive. All she'd say is that it was a group that wanted to put this before voters.

It was total obfuscation bullshit. And if I wasn't educated on current issues, she totally could have snowed me.

It was obvious the signature drive was leveraging the liberal leanings (i'm assuming) of Pride Fest attendees to dupe them into signing this pro business anti labor trash.

Fuck em all.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 2, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Nick CapHill 4
@2. I am curious if you wanted the voters (and not city council) to decide on $15 hr, what initiative you would have drafted?
Posted by Nick CapHill http://thestranger.com on July 2, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 5
@4 I don't draft initiatives. I'm Joe Schmo Homo. I just work to stay educated on current issues and use my BS detector as best I can.

As our politics clearly differ, my BS detector homes in on things differently from yours.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 6
@4 Also, I support what my elected officials on the Seattle City Council are doing regarding the $15 minimum. So, I see no need for this to hit the ballot. And, therefore, more action on this matter is meant to delay and derail. DUH.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
7
If you talk to both the blockers, and the petitioners, and even the reporters, you will find out that lack of knowledge is glaringly common.

If you oppose a direct vote of the public on the new wage ordinance then you should openly admit that you support the ordinance and you are concerned that the registered voters of the city disagree with you.

You should openly admit that you support referendums on city council ordinances when you strongly oppose the ordinance and feel that registered voters support your stance.
Posted by Reporters are supposed to interview on July 2, 2014 at 11:17 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 8
I should I should I should? We should we should we should?

I am in agreement with the Seattle City Council. They are our elected representatives.

The public DIRECTLY elected every city councilmember. And the mayor. So far, i'm happy with their actions. Therefore, this referendum/initiative/signature bullshit is exactly that ... BULLSHIT.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 3, 2014 at 12:11 AM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 9
The Seattle City Council supports the highest minimum wage in the world. With action and approved legislation to back it up

Not the swiftest action I would like ... but if the moneyed interests of the 1% had it their way, there would be NO action at all.

So any attempt to get this on the ballot is an attempt to subvert the positive action the elected Seattle City Council has already taken. It means that they don't agree with a wage hike.

Any attempt to subvert what the Seattle City Council already approved means you don't approve of improving the living conditions of thousands of Seattleites.

DON'T BE FOOLED.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 3, 2014 at 2:38 AM · Report this
Nick CapHill 10
@9 of course you have a right to your opinion. Opinions aside, I was just finding out what you meant by a "total bluff" and not a bluff. What should the signature-gatherer say in order to relay the message to a person that THIS will help bring the $15 hr wage to a peoples vote.

----

Opinions NOT aside, in this case, supporting direct democracy (bringing it to a vote) is far better than letting our representatives rush "the highest minimum wage in the world" decision in a matter of months. Especially when campaign donators, like the SEIU, and Socialist city council members, contribute to some obvious bias.
Posted by Nick CapHill http://thestranger.com on July 3, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 11
@10 Are you a paid political operative? Or do you belong to an organization that does not support the $15 minimum?

I like direct democracy as much as you. And Kshama Sawant was voted into office citywide.

Don't call endless referendums/initiatives/signature gatherings "DIRECT DEMOCRACY."

It's all direct democracy. And in this instance, progressive voters managed to get the Council to pass reform legislation the voters wanted. NO MORE VOTING NEEDED.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 3, 2014 at 9:52 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 12
To expose the lie hidden by this signature push:
1. The Seattle City Council voted in approval of a watered-down $15 minimm wage plan.
2. This came after the election of Kshama Sawant to Council who's main campaign goal was the $15.
3. The incoming mayor supported $15 in his race. Although, at a much lesser pro-biz level
4. To slow this down, the only thing opponents can do is to keep trying to delay and put this before voters.

So, @10 .... are you just seeking to delay what most progressives in Seattle have shown and voted to show that they support?
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 3, 2014 at 9:57 PM · Report this
Partly Cloudy 13
Voters in Seattle are smart. They knew voting in Mayor Murray and Councilmember Sawant ALSO meant supporting that our city was about to make big strides in supporting our low wage earners.

So, the voters elected them. The Council took action. And now you want to put it up for more votes?

DELAY DELAY DELAY DELAY DELAY DELAY.

That's all this is about.
Posted by Partly Cloudy on July 3, 2014 at 10:01 PM · Report this
14
Look, next time to you get asked how to sign a petition "to let the voters decide" or to "just put on the ballot and let the people decide", I'd suggest asking if they are volunteers or being paid per signature.

Petitioners carrying the Forward Seattle petition got paid $1.50 per signature, and $2.50 for the Uber / Lyft ride share petition. As stories of *some* signature gatherers using shady tactics were published here and in other local publications, Forward Seattle upped the price per signature to $4.

Paid Petitioners usually don't care what the issue is because they're paid per signature. The "let the people" decide bit is the magical phrase they are trained to rely on to avoid arguments with the public — which slows down the amount of people they can ask.

I honestly don't care if they are getting paid to gather signatures. I've had conversations with petitioners who've claimed to have bought a home on petitioning money alone. Others have said they're indifferent to an issue or campaign because they aren't able to vote, due to a conviction on their record.

Dig a little deeper and you'll find some petitioners are local to the area, but others will fully admit to being survivors of hollowed out cities like Detroit, Stockton, St. Louis. These (mostly) men and women will freely admit their disdain for "big government" and "bloated corporations". The irony of being hired by these corporations to put confusing measures in front of voters is often lost on them.

They're just in it to make a buck. Some will lie to you because they'll never see you again. Other will be honest with you because no matter how much has been taken away from them firmly believe in a democratic process.

So for what it's worth, take the time to read the petition, and if you're confused you can always do you research and go back later. They'll be waiting for you.
More...
Posted by infinite-pattern on July 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
15
I bet inifinite pattern has volunteered on hundreds of issues and made a huge difference in the world. Legions are in debt to their selfless efforts.

Anywho. Facts are facts. That particular campaign started late. Then blockers, paid blockers, showed upon in large numbers, where they literally patrolled areas and when they would find a signature gatherer, who too often is a toothless, uneducated, poorly dressed clown, then they would deploy three blockers to make the guy psychological uncomfortable, no matter how well they understood the issue, or not, to help the campaign lose ground, since after all, their objective was to block the issue from having access to the ballot.

Then of course, being more savvy than Forward Seattle, in political dirt tactics, they did a good job spinning the press, to gain unbalanced negative press coverage, without doing the slightest to disclose the very existence of the blocking campaign. The blockers, who not willing to discuss who they were working for, but I'm told some said they were from Oregon.

One writer for the Seattle Times informed me they had absolutely no awareness of the presence of the blocking campaign. Freedom of the Press includes the freedom to be naive.

Raising the price at the end is a reflection of a few simple things,

1. They started late
2. They have a short clock
3. It's a city issue. Most you talk to will be from outside the area
4. Blockers showed up in force in the last week
5. Also. The campaign begin with a small amount of money. So they didn't have the resources of Uber.

Blocking campaign don't work very often. But they do increase the price of the proponents efforts, which they happy to do. The way to run a blocking campaign that is effective is to be prepared in advance and show in large force when the campaign is running out of time, usually because they started late.
More...
Posted by Reporters are supposed to interview on July 5, 2014 at 10:45 PM · Report this
16
First I want to point out that the voters did decide the $15/hr minimum wage. As a Seattle voter I had yard signs up for every local candidate who had $15/hr right on their yard signs. They ran on the very issue of income inequality and offered a $15/hr minimum wage as their solution in our city. Then they backed up their promise by bringing all views into the discussion through community forums and drafting a historically significant law that directly addresses income inequality in our city.

Second, on the issue of honesty in signature gathering by the Forward group, I too ran into a Forward signature gatherer downtown. He was a professional organizer (so am I) who said he was in from out of state to help the Forward campaign. We got to talking and when he found out I too was a professional organizer who actively campaigned for the $15 minimum wage he simply said,

"You won't sign this one then. We are trying to repeal that (meaning the $15/hr minimum wage) by getting it on the ballot."

I found him to be totally honest and upfront about the Forward campaigns intentions. They intend to kill the $15/hr minimum wage.
Posted by Rjb on July 7, 2014 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Nick CapHill 17
@11 - Just some definitions for you.

Direct Democracy is where it decided by a vote of the people.

Representative Democracy is where elected officials decide.

15/hr was gained by representative democracy. And, NO, I am not an operative. And No, I dont think the majority of Seattle wants this. I dont, my friends dont, so I dont think this issue should have been decided by our "representatives".
Posted by Nick CapHill http://thestranger.com on July 7, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
18 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
19
Right after the new wage was announced, thousands of people were laid off and rents went up. I think the $15 is probably not going to be the "new high" but the new "low" for those who are laid off of higher paying jobs. Also, how are people going to afford childcare? How devastating will it be to small businesses like kiosks or landscapers/haulers? It is a simpleton solution to a complex problem. The problem is those who make TOO MUCH money, more than too little. We all know who they are.
Posted by MirandaP on October 9, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this

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