Up for Debate in the $15 Minimum Wage Conversation

Ignore the Overheated Rhetoric—Here Are Actual Policy Ideas Being Discussed Among Business Owners and Activists

Up for Debate in the $15 Minimum Wage Conversation

Kelly O

SHOULD TIPS COUNT? This will likely be one of the most contentious issues.

Right now in Seattle, activists and business leaders are not talking to each other; they're talking over each other. On one side, you have Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and the group 15 Now, who say there must be "no delay" and "no exceptions" to passing a $15-an-hour minimum wage, dismissing any measures to help small businesses get there as a needless "compromise." (Many in that camp contend that even discussing ways to accommodate small local companies amounts to allowing corporations to force workers into homelessness and starvation.) On the other side, you have critics responding to that zero-compromise rhetoric, claiming the wage hike would kill every adorable little business in town while turning it into a city of Olive Gardens. The owner of St. Clouds told the Seattle Times that a $15 minimum wage is "outlandish" and warned he may have to shutter his restaurant. Burke Shethar, who runs the Madrona Ale House across the street, intoned that the cost of burgers in Seattle could skyrocket to $18 a pop. And KIRO ran a story suggesting that customers will stop tipping their waiters.

So there's hyperbole on both sides.

Watching from the outside, you'd think this is a zero-sum game to pass the $15 minimum wage or kill it.

But that's not the real debate.

It's highly unlikely that Seattle will mandate a $15 minimum wage across the board right now, or, on the flip side, that Seattle will do nothing. The debate among lawmakers, union leaders, business owners, and activists is how we graduate to $15 an hour—a number that even the mayor supports. Now is the time to get serious about this conversation because, by all accounts, the city council or voters will make the final decision later this year.

To be fair, Sawant and activists with 15 Now have put their proposal on the table: They want $15 now. The business community lacks that concise message (it's hard to be more concise than five characters). But the businesspeople concerned about $15 an hour should stop promoting doom-and-gloom scenarios about what they oppose and start articulating the policy they support. And to be fair to them, many business owners support raising the minimum wage, but they are less united about how to do it. For example, some might support a six-year phase-in for locally based companies with fewer than 20 employees. Others might support no phase-in, but require that tips and health care be considered as part of the total wage.

The mayor's Income Inequality Advisory Committee and the council's Select Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality are discussing the wonky details right now. I've spoken to staff in the mayor's office, the city council, three small-business owners, 15 Now, and leaders at key unions to ask what ideas are being batted around. I've listed some of the policy tools under consideration—I'm so sorry for saying policy tools—below. We're not endorsing these options. But we are saying the real debate is in these details, and that the next step is having a substantial discussion about them, not a black-and-white binary that makes people want to kill each other.

Getting this right in Seattle is in everyone's best interest. It could help set a new standard for a livable minimum wage, a standard that's workable for workers and boosts the entire economy.

Distinguishing Between Large and Small Businesses

This is among the top questions: How does Seattle ensure that corporate behemoths such as AMC Theatres, McDonald's, Office Max, and Target begin paying $15 immediately—because their economies of scale would allow them to absorb the added payroll—while ensuring that tiny coffee shops and the like don't drown? Or even if little businesses stay afloat, some ask, how can the law be implemented so small shops don't need to raise prices by 30 percent to break even, thereby disadvantaging them next to national chain stores that don't need to raise prices?

We're not discussing what an "allowance" or an "exemption" for a small business might be right here—just how to separate the big guys from the little fellas. Two dominant mechanisms to make the distinction are emerging. First, Seattle could distinguish the companies (or parent companies) by their gross revenues. For example, we could provide some allowances to businesses with revenues less than $250,000 or $1 million a year. (The city council has commissioned a report, due out in April, that studies the effects of a $15 wage and may provide clarity about how to differentiate between businesses large and small.) Or companies with a smaller staff could receive certain allowances—say, companies with 10 or fewer employees. Perhaps locally based chains with fewer than five stores could be given more time to implement the law than national chains with 500 (or 5,000) stores. As for nonprofits? Most agree that the giants, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, should pay their staff $15 an hour immediately. But a small nonprofit with six employees, which has wages set by past grants or endowments, may require a few years to recalibrate.

Phasing In the Wage

Of all the ways to fine-tune the minimum wage, most stakeholders seem to believe a final policy may involve phasing in the higher wage over three to six years. This would not be a compromise, as some put it, but standard practice for raising base wages. For example, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 had three steps from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Gradually raising the wage each year, by $1.25 annually, for example, could reduce the shock to smaller companies, particularly those with loans contingent on business models that were based on the previous wage, and possibly to certain workers. For instance, many low-income workers qualify for social services, such as subsidized childcare or discount utilities, so phasing in a wage reduces the potential for a tidal wave of people suddenly leaving low-income brackets and no longer qualifying. Like all exemptions, phasing in could apply to smaller businesses and not larger ones.

Tipped Employees and Total Compensation

The idea here is that an employee's tips or other benefits could count toward their minimum wage, so that no matter what, each employee makes $15 an hour one way or another. For example, in the case of a waiter who makes more than $6 an hour in tips, which are required to be reported to the IRS, the business owner would not raise the waiter's base wage, because the minimum wage is already more than $9 an hour. However, if the waiter averaged less than $6 an hour in tips during their shift or pay period, the employer would have to make up the difference to equal $15 an hour. This "total compensation" standard could also apply to employees who are paid on commission, who receive quota-based pay, or who are compensated by the number of units they produce. But if this seems simple, it's not. Once you factor in retirement or health-care benefits, costs that vary widely from one company to the next, gauging the value of the benefit becomes almost impossible. Also, while many hospitality-business owners claim this total-compensation model is necessary, workers' unions will fight like the dickens to block it. After years in the legislature successfully lobbying against lower wages for tipped employees, labor will be loath to set such a precedent in the state's wealthiest city.

Total Pay

This is simple: Some don't think the total wage should be $15. Some think it should be, say, $12. While resistance to $15 an hour would be intense, to say the least, critics of $15 an hour should identify what wage they do support.

Collective Bargaining and Unions

Workers' associations that negotiate contracts with employers are typically locked into multiyear labor agreements. When the city council passed Seattle's paid-sick-leave law, it specified that the new rules would take effect for unions when they brokered their next contracts, thereby avoiding the need to reopen complicated negotiations. Likewise, the higher minimum could kick in when the next round of contracts are signed for each union.

Other Stuff

Lots of other ideas are on the table, many of which are considered nonstarters. For example: lower wages for employees who are "training" or are younger than 18 years old; exemptions from the city's B&O taxes, which are tiny, and arguably amount to a government wage subsidy; and exemption from sales taxes, which are largely earmarked already. Another idea involves the city raising fees for corporate businesses and handing the revenue to smaller companies to buoy wages, which is almost certain to be branded as "wealth redistribution."

Inflation, Enforcement, and Review

Seattle could shackle the new wage to inflation—to avoid these political fisticuffs in the future—while also creating a board that enforces the rules. Another board could study the impacts, which would have a twofold advantage: The data could let the city council know if the policy needs to be tweaked, while also providing an official record that the policy is (or is not) working. These reports could serve as the data-driven basis to demonstrate that other big cities can also raise the wage. recommended


Comments (159) RSS

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Crap! The stranger has turned into NPR. So objective they might as well be a twitter feed of every inane talking point they can find. It was fine dabbling in Socialism when it sold advertising but I guess wage issues hit their advertisers a little too close to home.

Posted by DaveJustice on March 11, 2014 at 11:31 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 2
@1, well Huff Post DID call The Stranger the most important alternate weekly in the country. And we are seeing why. It's more than willing to become mealy mouthed whore for their advertisers. Ariana Huffington would be proud!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 12, 2014 at 3:07 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 3
It's amazing how much Holden reverts back to being a shill without Goldy breathing down his neck.

All of this is concessions from workers. Not one concession from business. And Holden pretends he's being all grown up reporting this as a "negotiation." Negotiation is when both sides give something up. Extortion is where one side makes demands and the other side gives.

Going down to $12/hr is a concession from workers. A tip exemption is a concession from workers. A health care credit is a concession from workers. Making workers wait while we take baby steps toward $15 means giving inflation time to make $15 worth less and less. We should have $15 now, and cost of living increases in the years to come to compensate for inflation, not the opposite. Every hole in the Swiss cheese is a concession from workers. What is business offering in exchange for these concessions?


They won't even offer historical proof that any business will be harmed by a minimum wage increase. They won't open their books to show any proof that they can't afford it. They do nothing. Nothing, but demand concessions.

And their mouthpiece Holden whines that its' so haaaaaaard to get together and make a concise, clear offer. Poor, poor business. Imagine how hard it is to hold a meeting and cook up a unified strategy when you work two jobs to feed your family. If workers can come together and send a clear message, the 1% can do the same. There's only 1/100th as many of you, after all. Pay one of your flunkies to work out the details for you. Holden will jump to it if you snap your fingers.

The truth is this: Business is taking just as hard a line as 15 Now. Business is stonewalling and credulous hacks like Dominic Holden are carrying their message for them.

Want real negotiation? Offer something in exchange for what you want.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 12, 2014 at 9:47 AM · Report this
JF 4
ITT: People who have no concept of how to run a business, telling others how they should run their business.
Posted by JF on March 12, 2014 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 5
Sorry workers, I know you have kids to feed and mounting bills, but a handful of restaurants might close! Dave Meinert might have to cut back from owning 12 restaurants to only 9!

Won't someone think of the wealthy?

#3 is correct. The thesis of this post is basically that workers should concede everything, and businesses should concede nothing because they and the status quo are more important. Very progressive.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM · Report this
it's really a bad idea to exempt small business. first, a business with just two employees could be highly profitable and one with 2000 could be not profitable. Two, business can manipulate itself! it can fire employees to fit under the threshold! it can divide one business into two to get under the threshold! it can divide on business into five to get under the size limit! three, it's incredibly complex and expensive to define, administer, teach, enforce find and litigate issues like "do you have over ten employees?" when some come and go, some of them work partly up in shoreline, etc. etc. Finally, it's a crappy idea because it leaves some workers not making the same minimum wage. How are you less worthy, deserving that kick in the ass, just because you have only five co workers not fifty?
Posted by no swiss cheese loopholes! on March 12, 2014 at 10:11 AM · Report this
Correct me if I'm an asshole for thinking this, but does it still make sense to have a tipping culture if we vote to raise the MW to $15?
Posted by wxPDX on March 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
a board to enforce exemptions? what?

we're going to review the paperwork and accounting of every business in seattle? we're going to review whether tom douglas runs his five or ten restaurants as diff. companies, under the revenue cap, or one? jesus every single review would be a major three year litigation with armies of lawyers and forensic accountants. instead of that swiss cheese approach, just say it applies to everyone the way a minimum wage is supposed to do!
Same with compensation. hey you ate a burger at work, now we deduct you $18 from your paycheck. Oh wait we imposed a tip on you, it's $21. Oh and since we provide that benefit twice a day we deduct $42 daily five days a week, that's a $210 benefit to you! don't like it? get a lawyer and see you in court. what? or our health care plan, we value it as worth $200 a month to you. Care to disagree? starting paying a lawyer. how in hell can the government micromanage all these exemptions, we can't even make cars on the road actually have insurance!

no exceptions. you are worth $15 an hour period.
Posted by exemptions too clunky on March 12, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Why the fuck am I paying for WIC/SNAP/etc just because you're a "precious small business owner" that is too selfish or too ignorant to pay their employees well? What gives you the right to demand the rest of us chip in for your business costs?
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 10:22 AM · Report this
@7. good thought. and it doesn't make sense. tipping is just lots of money outside the b and o tax, the l and I premiums, it's archair and paternalistic and the state general fund and other tax funds are being cheated. lots of that income isn't not declared. why not put service on the bill and pay all the taxes, that helps us all.
Posted by under the table bad. on March 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM · Report this
@7 If it's straight $15/hour with no exemptions, I think that's fine unless you really want to. Food service folks want to weigh in here?
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM · Report this
Are workers really "conceding" in this discussion if the net impact is still a significant gain over the current minimum wage? Honest question - as I always thought that the real strategy behind demanding a $15/hr minimum wage was to start the discussion and hopefully end up with $12-13/hr as a starting point. This would still be a huge gain for minimum wage workers.

As for tipped positions, I think servers in restaurants will probably see tips shrink somewhat but not disappear, but in places where there is a tip jar on the counter and no real table service, I would expect tips to all but disappear after a huge wage jump. That might be an even swap or even a gain to the employee, but I doubt most cafes include tips in their W-2s, so there is some downside to that from a tax standpoint.

While I would support a "total compensation" approach that included tips in determining wage, it's ridiculous to include healthcare or other benefits in the calculation. Do other industries get to back retirement out of their minimum wage calculations?
Posted by genevieve on March 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
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fletc3her 14
Hamburgers already cost $18 in this town.

The government is negotiating with all the employers over the cost of one hour of human labor. The employers have effectively colluded and used their asymmetric position to negotiate workers en masse to such a low average wage that many workers rely on public assistance.

Yes, it's possible that this artificially low wage has made it possible for some businesses to operate at very low margins, but it simply isn't sustainable. If we want to subsidize businesses we should do so directly rather than allowing them to benefit from a safety net designed for those who have fallen on hard times.

Small businesses often get caught in the trap of basing a business plan on the current price of supplies rather than on a sustainable price of supplies. A restaurant started during a seafood glut might not pencil out when seafood returns to its average price or if there is a shortage. The price of labor is going to rise. Companies who want to remain in business would be well advised to be out in front of it.
Posted by fletc3her on March 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM · Report this
15 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
@14 - The lie (or was it hyperbole?) in your first sentence made me not read any of the rest. I hope it wasn't important!
Posted by pkbrown on March 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM · Report this
I doubt most cafes include tips in their W-2s

With the majority of customers using credit cards to pay and tip, you think the proprietor doesn't keep a record of the tip money and how it's doled out to employees, with appropriate tax payments to the IRS ?
Topic 761 - Tips – Withholding and Reporting
Posted by ChefJoe on March 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Thank you for a thoughtful presentation of the issues and options.
Posted by relativepitch on March 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
theophrastus 19
$15 is arbitrary. who's in and who's out is arbitrary. the minimum wage has been too long too low for an arbitrary amount of time.

it is time to raise the minimum wage. that's the only thing that seems consistently clear.

so here's my arbitrary:
raise it a buck a year with cut-outs for non-profits (monitor the result in unbiased fashion; changing course if disaster looms)

the only absolute certainty is that people will remain irrational, emotional, and apparently unyielding, on both sides.
Posted by theophrastus on March 12, 2014 at 10:56 AM · Report this
CBSeattle 20
It's useful to summarize the likely areas of compromise/debate.

As much as I understand the desire to get to $15, I don't understand why it must happen in one jump. It's a huge leap that will have all kinds of repercussions that are hard to predict or manage.

Isn't is more responsible to take a quick but graduated approach that will allow businesses to adjust and the city to analyze the repercussions and make whatever adjustments are necessary along the way - i.e. changes to tax laws, regulations, definitions of a small business, etc.

Side note: I still don't understand who is meant to make the counter-proposal. Everyone mentions "the business community", but I'm not aware of a specific group who has been given the mandate to represent them.

So the only counter-offer I can see must be coming from the Mayor's office who I guess we are assuming will take a more nuanced approach based on the differing perspectives of the local businesses and their employees.
Posted by CBSeattle on March 12, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
This is a contentious issue and is emotionally charged. The central issue appears to be what is “fair and just” compensation for low wage earners. A few facts:

69% are supportive of a $15/hour minimum wage

However, 43% of people would not support it if it meant a loss in jobs.

A marginal increase in minimum wages appears to have little or no effect on the economy, inflation and general employment rates. Marginal being defined as approximately $1 or less increase in the base.

Economist indicate that a minimum wage measuring between 45% to 50% of prevailing average hourly wage is not disruptive to the economy, principally employment equilibrium, price levels and supply/demand curves.

The prevailing average hourly wage currently is $16.71

Thus a desirable targeted minimum wages would be computed as follows (50% x $16.71) = $8.36/hour.

As minimum wages increases beyond this rate of $8.36, then the economy begins to react negatively, meaning:

a) Low income earners are “crowded out” of the pool of employed as employers cut back on hiring, reduce hours worked and hired only more experienced workers.

b) Prices are increased to compensate for higher labor costs, thus reducing demand for goods and services and thereby reducing even more demand for labor. A spiral develops.

c) Price increases appear in the range of 4% increase for each 10% increase in wages. Thus a 60% increase in base minimum wage rates could translate into a 24% increase in prices for goods and services.

So, at present $15/hour appears to present the following situation:

--loss of jobs to those who need them most

--crowding out of low income wage earner opportunities

--higher prices across the board

Posted by mistral on March 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 22

Business sat on their hands for decades while the real value of the minimum wage eroded. Where where they with their offer? In the late 60s the Federal minimum wage was equivalent to over $11/hr.

Ending poverty wages is not a perk. It's not a concession from business to pay people enough to live without welfare. It's what wages are supposed to be in the first place.

When they talk about less than $15/hr, they're asking for less than a living wage. If you want to pay less than a living wage, you need to offer something mighty sweet in exchange.

Especially since we could put this to a vote right now and a solid $15/hr would pass with 68% support. The voters know the score; it's just credulous hacks like Dominic Holden who are spewing fantasies.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 12, 2014 at 11:21 AM · Report this
Dominic Holden 23
@3) As news editor, I've been writing about, and advocating for, a $15 an hour minimum wage for years. Goldy's presence and absence at the paper has zero impact on that position.

Then you claim, "Business is stonewalling and credulous hacks like Dominic Holden are carrying their message for them. Want real negotiation? Offer something in exchange for what you want. "

That's also wrong--you get my position exactly backwards. I criticize the business owners who stonewall, saying:

The businesspeople concerned about $15 an hour should stop promoting doom-and-gloom scenarios about what they oppose and start articulating the policy they support... We're not endorsing these options. But we are saying the real debate is in these details, and that the next step is having a substantial discussion about them, not a black-and-white binary that makes people want to kill each other.

Maybe you should save your invective for situations where someone actually disagrees with you.
Posted by Dominic Holden on March 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Uh, Dom, how many of the editors at The Stranger would be willing to work for, say, $12 per hour?

...and how many of the staff would agree to work for $12 after having a look at Tim's earnings or Christopher's paycheck?
Posted by Want to sell out? Pimp your ass, not ours. on March 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 25
We're not discussing what an "allowance" or an "exemption" for a small business might be right here—just how to separate the big guys from the little fellas.

And how does this stand up in court? Phase it in for everyone.

Also what #8 said. A system of exemptions is going to take an absurd amount of city resources, and it's going to be rife with abuse. Anyone who's seeking an exemption for small business doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
I wonder how many of the business owners who claim they care for their workers but also claim they can't pay a living wage have offered their employees some form of profit sharing? One would think that underpaid workers would have considered some other form of payment like a stake in the business before it came to this conflict. None of this is really consistent with owners saying they are doing all they can to compensate workers for their labor.
Posted by anon1256 on March 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM · Report this
@20 The reason they are discussing the issue as having it all now is because you don't bargain yourself down before the negotiation happens. That's fucking stupid.

@21 Then why does the state have a better than average unemployment rate? And what about other economic factors, such as funding for transportation, education and overall health outcomes and other economic factors?

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you're doing nothing but cherry picking data and filling this thread with incomplete and absolute bullshit.
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
bgix 28
The argument for $15/hr has always had the potential for side-tracking and derailing by side issues. My biggest fear for Sawant and the $15/hr coalition is always that through inflexibility they will gain *nothing* by insisting on a hard-line *everything*.

I am a big believer in the $15/hr minimum wage, but I am also willing to pragmatically accept solutions that advance the "livable wage for all" mantra at the possible expense of line item details.

For instance, we all know that McD employees will never get tipped, so a hardline $15/hr for them is appropriate. But if you are working at a high end restaurant where the serving staff are making $40/hr in tips, then their livable wage has been accomplished already.

That leaves the vast middle. Sure I would like perhaps a European system where the livable wage is standard, and tips are rare, but as a believer in meritocracy, I don't think we should dis-incentivize those who work hard for their tips. Perhaps a standard, where say 25% of a servers "tip wages" could be used as a "Minimum Offset", while the hard base remains the current $9/hr. That would allow workers to *always* benefit from their tips, and by the time they hit $24/hr in tips they start keeping all of it. If they made only $10/hr in tips, $2.50/hr would be used to offset their minimum wage up to $15, giving them a "non-tip" regular base paycheck of $12.50/hr ($15 - $2.50), and $10/hr in take-home tips. The $40/hr tip maker would still be paid the hard base of $9/hr but would be taking home the $40/hr in tips.

A sliding scale as it were. And it could be expanded to other vocations that "pay on commission".
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Also, can one of you shitheels please, please explain to me why I as a tax payer have to subsidize the shit wages of these hard working employees simply because their employer doesn't pay them enough?

I keep asking this, and no one seems to be able to explain to me why I have to foot the bill so some twee shop owner can pocket profits that should be going to their employees instead.

Why in the fuck should I be paying money to these shop owners?
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
whether you like the items on the list or not, this seems like a solid straightforward survey of the options that have been raised. The next step is what Dominic writes: "the businesspeople concerned about $15 an hour should stop promoting doom-and-gloom scenarios about what they oppose and start articulating the policy they support."
Posted by SMWT on March 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this
@28 Man, I love people like you that lord tip money over their "inferiors" lest they stop working hard enough to earn enough money to feed themselves.

Afraid that cute waitress is going to stop flirting with you if she's paid a decent wage?
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 32

That's a pretty big leap going by what #28 actually wrote. The reality is that bartenders and waiters at upscale bars and restaurants make a ton of money in tips. If you impose a $15/hour wage and abolish tipping, that would be a huge pay cut for them.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM · Report this
JF 33
@29 You're not subsidizing wages, you're subsidizing a lifestyle. You have to do it because those people aren't living within their means. That's not the business owner's fault, that's the fault of the worker who deciding he couldn't possibly live in a low rent neighborhood with multiple roommates or any other lifestyle choice he may or may not make.
Posted by JF on March 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Report this
@27 Fact are stubborn things and I think we need to look at facts not emotions.

It is true what you say, the State of Washington, "currently" enjoys the fruits of some economic improvement, but will that be dimmed by the pending $15/minimum wage increase.

I believe it will be and the economic facts and realities tend to bear this out.

My comments are directed towards effects of increasing the minimum wage (drastically at levels greater than 50% of the prevailing average wages) as it affects general levels of employment, price levels and future employment prospects.

I think these are indeed important factors and are valid to consider.

The "cost" of a $15/hour minimum wage increase will "paid" for in unemployment, reduced hours, general price increases and decreased opportunity for those whom it was intended to benefit most.

Those are facts and they simply won't go away.

A vote for $15/hour includes these "social and economic" costs as well.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, no matter how hard one wishes to believe.

Posted by mistral on March 12, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
bgix 35

Wow, I'm not sure that came from. My proposal guarantees a livable wage (defined as $15/hr, for the sake of argument) without eliminating tip income. If anything, it incentivizes restaurant/bar owners to create the quality and ambiance that maximizes their employees tips, thereby minimizing their labor costs. And it keeps the majority of tips in workers pockets where it belongs.

Is that "lording tip money" over my "inferiors"? I'm sorry, I'm going to give you a "flunk" and ask that you re-check your work.

Honestly, from your post, I can't tell if you would be against it because tipped employees get tips and non-tipped employees don't, or because well tipped employees would in effect be easing the "labor cost" burden of their employers.
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 36

Because no one has ever been forced into bankruptcy by a medical issue, accident, or family event they had no control over. No one has ever lost their job unexpectedly and by no fault of their own.

It takes a serious and blinding amount of privilege to just foolishly claim that anyone who has ever required social assistance or made poverty wages did so by choice. A strawman is not an argument, but keep trying.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 12, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
bgix 37

You wrote:
"The "cost" of a $15/hour minimum wage increase will "paid" for in unemployment, reduced hours, general price increases and decreased opportunity for those whom it was intended to benefit most."

Keynesian economic models in fact suggest that while some individual businesses may suffer downsizing and/or impose price increases, that overall it will result in *increased* opportunity as more disposable income enters the market at the bottom. Businesses come and go all the time, for large numbers of reasons, and a $15/hr min wage would undoubtedly be one more "reason". But it will be a reason both in the negative (downsizing) *and* positive (more money being spent, means more opportunities to earn those new spent dollars, more demand, etc)
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
nartweag 38
If minimum wage goes up approximately 50%, what happens to those that have been working hard to make more than minimum? People that make, say $15-$25 an hour. Do they get a 50% raise too? If not (highly unlikely)then what happens? Suddenly after hard work, added responsibilities,etc. they are making barely above minimum....
Granted, I have not kept up on much of this topic, but has this even been addressed before?
Posted by nartweag on March 12, 2014 at 12:44 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 39
Some quick math on tips:
A mid range restaurant in Seattle has a server who has an average of $20 per guest in pricing (low ball estimate) and has 15 guests in a slower night. He's actually waiting tables for three hours and has one hour before tables get in to set up and one hour after the guests leave for side work.

So, he has $300 in net sales, and they tip 18%. That's $54 in tips. Now, he's been there five hours, so add $9.32 on top of that. But first subtract the 15%, or $8.10, for what he has to "tip out" to the busser and hostess. So, when you add tips and wages and subtract tip out, he is making $16.52/hour.

And that's ON A SLOWER NIGHT AT A LOW END RESTAURANT. I'm not a mathematician, but I think $16.52/hour is more than $15/hour...

I've been working in the restaurant biz for 15 years and anyone who says we tipped restaurant people are the "starving proletariat masses" is on crack.

I make minimum wage plus tips and I DON'T WANT 15/HOUR. Why? Because at that rate, people tip less and I end up making LESS MONEY!

I have yet to see or hear from a single tipped restaurant person advocating for 15now. Why? Because we all know we make good money and that this would put our livelihoods and lifestyles in jeopardy.

If anything happens PLEASE include a tip credit. I don't want to see a pay cut because some idiot in a red shirt doesn't know shit about the restaurant industry.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on March 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
I think I would prefer a world with every worker making a living wage to a world where many workers don't make a living wage, but some bartenders at upscale bars make a lot of money.

I mean, right?
Posted by You Can't Tip a Buick on March 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
@35 Part of the debate, in my mind as per my comment above, is how tipping should respond to a $15 minimum wage. I think it's fair to say tipping happens for two reasons: to commend a job well done and to help make up for low wages. In Europe, tips for commendation are sporadic, and you might reasonably expect the same here. Servers making $40/hour, as you say, is due to a cultural expectation of an 18-20% tip, not necessarily because diners think $40/hr is what the service is worth. There's information asymmetry at work: diners can never know if the staff is making a decent wage, or not. If they did, would tipping decline?
Posted by wxPDX on March 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
bgix 42

If you resent a co-worker that gets a raise when you don't, then yes I could see that you could have a problem with this. Even if that co-worker is still not making as much as you. However, I would point out that you haven't actually gotten a pay cut, so begrudging your co-worker a wage that will feed his family might not be the most compelling argument to make out loud.
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 12:53 PM · Report this
If this passes without a tip credit, you will see restaurants replace the current tip structure with an automatically included "17% service charge" with no further tip necessary. That gives full control over the tip money to the restaurant owner who can distribute it (or not) as they see fit.
Posted by drshort on March 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM · Report this

His wage won't go up, but his purchasing power will go down because a 63% minimum wage increase is gonna drive the price of lots of things he needs to buy up.

It's a valid point, and one that it totally ignored by 15 Now fanatics.

Posted by Mr. X on March 12, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Cascadian 45
I'm OK with a compromise that includes a tip credit and applies to commission work as well. I am not OK with including health benefits at their full cost because such benefits have tended to outpace inflation. If health costs spike for reasons unrelated to anything the worker does, they'll take a hit in spendable income.

On the other hand, I think some credit for companies that provide these benefits is reasonable. In particular, I think Dick's should not be penalized for providing health benefits that McDonalds does not provide. Single payer for all would obviate this whole point, but that's outside of the city's control. One thing you could do would be to cap the credit at a percentage of total income, say 8%-10%. So employers that provided health care could pay $13.50 with a $1.50 health care wage credit. If that's still too much, employers can pay the full $15 and their employees can use the additional wage to offset medical expenses.

I do think some compromises in favor of workers to make up for these exemptions might be in order, too. Like making the total amount $15 or an amount indexed to average rent or inflation, whichever is higher, based upon formulas that currently work out to $15/hour. That means that over time, if housing costs rise faster than inflation, minimum wage will stay at the same level.
Posted by Cascadian on March 12, 2014 at 1:13 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 46
A recent poll found that people would tip less to not at all if the Minimum wage went to 15/hour. Source:…

Servers and bartenders already make good money, I out to know, I've been doing it for fifteen years. We don't want or need an idiotic gesture that will result in us making less.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on March 12, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 47

Health care inflation is the least of the problems with that proposal.

Have you ever seen what your company pays for its part of your health insurance? If you're paying $150/month (which is pretty typical for most non-union plans), your employer is paying $500/month. Allowing an employer exemption for a health care burden like that results in paying an employee $11.50/hour, and that's not including the $150 (plus deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance) the employee is also paying out of pocket.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
@37 It's not all together clear that Lord Maynard Keynes would agree with your distortion of his economic theories. There are several inconsistencies in your "quote" for lack of a better word:

1) Total aggregate employment and demand would drop, thus there would be "less total dollars" at the "bottom", not more.

2) Price increases would surely "erase" the imaginary "increased opportunity and disposable income" of which you opine might happen.

What is fascinating in this entire conversation is where in the world did this $15/hour figure derive.

Was it carefully considered by government officials, economist, social welfare agencies, business owners, unions and thoughtfully considered?

Or was it from the rantings of the disaffected, of 18 to 20 year olds working at a fast food restaurant, who don't believe that the minimum wage is a starting point and that working your way up or getting education isn't a valid means of advancing economically?

Oddly, working your way up by learning how to work, gaining experience, education has worked quite well in this country and many others through out the world.

For those, however, few where this concept holds no sway, well that is why I suggest we have myriads of government agencies, charities and social programs to lend assistance.

A very strange concept to revisit to be sure.

Just a thought.

Posted by mistral on March 12, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 49
Good point. If the price of everything goes up than suddenly 15/hour doesn't go as far as it once did.
Also, if the price of groceries and such goes up in Seattle but not outside of city limits, do you really think folks won't go to Shoreline or Burien to get a deal? And if they do, what happens to our local economy then?
The more you sit down and think about it, the more the 15/now people appear to be on crack.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on March 12, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
@3 Going up from $9 to $12 is not a concession from business? How exactly does that work?
Posted by hmmmmm on March 12, 2014 at 1:29 PM · Report this
bgix 51

This is vastly overstating the affect of the 1.5% of Seattle Workers who would get a raise, on those already over the 15/hr line.…

Direct labor cost is *not* the main driver of inflation. The main drivers are *demand* and *availability*.

If a grocery store thinks it can clear more profit by raising the price of a roll of toilet paper by 5 cents, they will do it whether or not they are paying their cashiers a livable wage.

Yes, perhaps if 1.5% more people can *afford* that roll of toilet paper, then *demand* will go up, but weyerhaeuser will undoubtedly be willing to churn out a few more roles, solving the *availability* issue.

Is it possible that some businesses will try to pass the cost on to consumers directly? Sure. But they probably didn't understand that if the market could bear a "$15 burger" after the min raise hike, then it probably could have beforehand as well. And not to many of the 1.5% are going to be buying those $15 burgers anyway.

The only valid argument is really businesses with margin *so thin* that changes in the cost of direct labor are the actual tipping point between staying in business, and going out of business. And the number of those businesses is extremely small. And those businesses that do fail for that very reason will create a void in the market which can be filled by newcomers, creating a zero sum game at worst.
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
JF 52
@36 I don't think you understand what I wrote. I was responding to the question of "why am I subsidizing a business?" and the answer to that is "you're not, you're subsidizing the person."

Whatever the hell it was to do with your tumblr social justice warrior rant is beyond me.
Posted by JF on March 12, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
thePEARL 53
Here is my proposal as someone who supports a raise in minimum wage but would be negatively affected by an immediate jump to $15/hr:

Immediate raise to $12/hr across the board, large and small businesses included.

Annual $1 increases until the reasonable number is met. (May be higher than $15 at completion)

Once this condition is met, minimum wage is locked to inflation rate.

No base increase for tipped employees but employer must reconcile deficiencies each pay period if necessary.

No additional total compensation benefits are counted against the minimum wage number.

Non-profits can apply for at least temporary exemption with employee notification. (Set up so most small revenue foundations can get the exemption but places like the Gates foundation would be unlikely to receive one)

Union bargained contracts do not need to meet these requirements until they are next negotiated if that date is less than 4 years out.

I feel this does a pretty good job of helping raise the minimum quickly to a better level while allowing businesses the time needed to make adjustments without drastic measures. Some employees will still struggle financially as will some employers, but this can help bridge the gap without too much system shock.
Posted by thePEARL on March 12, 2014 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Informative article.

I'm hearing rumors of 3 different minimum wage ballot initiatives.

One is $15Now's immediate raise to $15 across the board, no exemptions for small businesses or non-profits, no phasing, no other forms of compensation.

2nd would be a $15 MW phased in over 3-7 years, different lengths of time for local vs. large national corps. Total compensation with tips, commissions, piece work, and some benefits included. Youth wage and training wage.

3rd is a rumor but from a good source - a statewide $12.50 minimum wage phased in over 3 years with a tip credit, and this would supercede any local laws including Seattle's $15 MW.

If they all three end up on the ballot it would be interesting to watch what Labor would do. Fight against raising wages for tons of people statewide so fewer people just in Seattle could have $15? Argue against $12.50 statewide because it has a tip credit while supporting $10.10 nationally with a tip credit?
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Report this
@27 says: " don't bargain yourself down before the negotiation happens. That's fucking stupid."

And yet that's exactly what you and the other zealots are demanding of business owners (and those who would dare to preach some kind of compromise). Isn't that blindingly obvious?
Posted by bigyaz on March 12, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
@48 - $15 came from a speech Nick Hanauer did. He needed a number, and pulled it out of his ass. SEIU then backwards engineered figures to support it as a living wage as it sounded good in their marketing research (and they were correct about that). Basically, it's soundbite policy. Originally it was meant to drive the conversation and get the MW up to $12-$13. Then Sawant came in and took it seriously, and helped drive the conversation (to her credit).
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
bgix 57

I would be tempted to vote for all 3. Maybe even 1.... I'd have to think about it. My biggest worry is that the absolutist "15 or bust" crowd will sink *all* of the livable wage proposals.

I think "15 or bust" is a good starting point, but the pragmatist within accepts compromise.
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Cascadian 58
@54, that sounds like divide and conquer by opponents of the minimum wage. Negotiate one citywide measure, no need for a public vote, and oppose any statewide law that would take away the right of localities to raise the local minimum wage.

53 has a good model for what's needed. A 5-7 year phase-in is too long. An immediate raise with more phased in over three years is the right pace, but that needs to be met with an indexed wage and a firm line against including the full cost of other benefits. Give both sides something when moving away from a flat $15/hour now.
Posted by Cascadian on March 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@46 thanks. I think we need an Official Slog Poll. I tip generously in part because my mom waited tables for $2.13/hour. I know it's not like that at the restaurants I visit now, but social norms reinforce my gut tendency. I think you are right to be opposed to $15 MW-- most of the people I know who tip well do so for a combination of societal expectations and concern about wages. That latter reason might be quite misinformed, it seems. I suspect it is in your interest to keep the customer base misinformed. (Not an insult, just that the information asymmetry is working for you.)

I don't know what happens if the restaurant union (?) comes out against raising the MW. Does it benefit servers to explain how much they make? Would a tip exclusion look like managers trying to exploit workers? (That's what I thought when I first heard it.) Maybe staying quiet and hoping the voters reject the proposal is the thing to do.
Posted by wxPDX on March 12, 2014 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Dominic, can someone please explain to the world that the reason that "The business community lacks that concise message..." is because there is no united voice that speaks for "The business community".

People keep blaming "business" for not having a concise response, but there's no one voice that represents "business". It's easy for the Redshirt posse, led by Sawat to just scream '$15 $15 $15!' and get lots of traction because everyone wants more money, but then they don't lead their people to think about the ramifications of such a rash act. That's y'r job, yo.

This is 101-level shit, Dominic. It's obvious to the small business community, but obviously it's not obvious to most others. Why has no one noticed this? Or, if they have, why have they (and you) not really voiced this reality?
Posted by I'm Cool on March 12, 2014 at 2:00 PM · Report this
@32 Did you not catch the part about how (paraphrasing here) "a lack of tips would dis-incentivize an employee from working hard"?

It's a common argument that ignores every other incentive to work hard that non-tipped employees face, such as risk of having hours reduced or being fired. It's a common argument used by folks who like the idea of having someone dance for them to get their tip money.

As for tipping itself? Credits are still shit, because it's really common for employees who claim they're making below minimum wages to just find themselves without hours the next week. No one is stopping someone from being tipped, so I have no idea why this keeps coming up for the handful of bartenders at high end restaurants at the expense of everyone else.

@34 Sorry buddy, but just because someone "gets emotional" doesn't mean their argument is bad. You're still cherry picking the fuck out of your data, and you're still not citing the sources, nor are you citing any data that goes against your hypothesis. Anyone who's read the economic literature knows that there are many competing conclusions - you're ignoring half the story here. If you're going to get all "beep boop I'm a walking rational actor" on us, you should actually deliver the goods.
Posted by Solk512 on March 12, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
@56 How reassuring that the $15/hour figure came from somebody doing "political grand standing" and ably assisted by yet another politician Sawant wishing to reimpose a discredited socialist agenda.

We have at present an economy which is beginning to rebound and flourish.

As a state, wee have the highest minimum wage in the country.

We have opportunity and upward mobility for those with initiative and ample support for those who are disadvantaged or need assistance.

Is this really the time to "jump on a political band wagon" riding atop a $15/hour wage that lacks any reasonable basis or normal contemplative construction for which the implications for the economy and those it seeks to help is completely misguided.

I think not.
Posted by mistral on March 12, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 63

Given the complaints I've heard from service workers who've worked for shady employers, it seems like the tip credit is an easy avenue for wage theft. It's hard enough to prove wage theft as it is.

Most Americans assume tipping is a reward for working hard, when in fact it's not. I'm not going to hold that against #28 in the absence of other questionable ideas about what kind of service a tip allegedly guarantees (like the idea that withholding a tip is an appropriate response to a lack of "friendliness").
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
bgix 64

So you took my entire post and boiled it/paraphrased it down to "a lack of tips would dis-incentivize an employee from working hard".

I stand by my harsh judgement of your reading comprehension.

What I don't want to dis-incentivize is tipping in general (by the tipper, not the tippee). It is a very good way for servers/employees to share in their employers success. Flat rate employees will get the same pay per hour regardless of how successful the establishment is. Tipped employees do better as the business (restaurant) does better.

I can see where you could take one sentence out of it's context to make it look like I am in favor of making employees dance like monkeys for scraps. But the post itself is 180 degrees in the opposite direction to where you took it.
Posted by bgix on March 12, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
@61 -- No one has said an "emotional" response is bad. Its just not terribly "helpful" in the discussion.

The "facts" provided won't go away and they are not as you curiously put it "cherry picking".

I think people will easily understand that substantial increases in minimum wages rates beyond what economic experience shows reasonable will result in increases in general price levels and lower demand for goods and services. The result is less not more employment and those who will suffer the most are those entering the job market.

Any first year student in economics has a basic grasp of these basic concepts as do people possessing common sense. The mere fact they discredit your "emotional response" is not grounds to disregard them.

As this discussion unfolds, and people begin to see the "price" to be "paid" for $15/hour, little by little they will see this is pure folly --both politically and economically.

This whole $15/hour scheme reminds me why "gambling is so attractive".... Its the lure of getting something for nothing or without effort. As always, it ends in tears.

Posted by mistral on March 12, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
@63 - the discussion around counting tips as part of total compensation is a bit different than a tip credit.

The idea is that the minimum hourly income for every employee be at least $15, guaranteed. The tips would have to show up on the employees paycheck, and the check would have to show total hours, total wages, total tips, and total pay per hour. If that total was below $15, the employer would have to adjust it.

Enforcement would be key. It would need to be stiff for the first time offense, stiffer for the 2nd time, and a loss of business license for the 3rd time. Wage theft is totally unacceptable.

This plan means any work a tipped employee does would result in a minimum $15 per hour, whether they were getting tips or not. So no work around for the employer.

The IRS counts tips as income, and so should the City of Seattle. Since 90% of tips are on credit cards these days, this is easy to put into place and enforce.
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this

Read the piece you linked - it may be that only 1.5% in Seattle may make the minimum wage, but a hell of a lot more workers than that make somewhere between minimum wage and $15/hr (and lots of businesses that are viable paying $10-14 an hour now won't be if the minimum wage rises - in Seattle only - to $15).

My point stands - and someone who is now making approximately 70% above minimum wage at $16/hour is NOT going to see a commensurate increase in their pay. This both devalues their pay in relative terms and also reduces their purchasing power in real terms because of the inflationary effect (and don't kid yourself - there WILL be one) of a 63% increase in the minimum wage.


Workers from the jurisdictions outside of Seattle will also likely be drawn by the promise of a $15/hour minimum wage, and a lot of those folks will have more job skills/stronger resumes than Seattle residents who are looking for jobs that now pay between $9.32 and $15/hour, too.
Posted by Mr. X on March 12, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Big Boss 68
$15 is already a massive compromise; the discussion should be a living wage. The real error on the part of 15Now et al was to grind themselves down to the "reasonable" compromise before negotiations started. All this article is is all the ways the compromise can be torn apart and reduced to nothing.
Posted by Big Boss on March 12, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Report this
Big Boss 69
@65 None of what you said has ever borne out in reality. Try getting PAST first year economics.
Posted by Big Boss on March 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM · Report this
@67 - I think for a while workers from outside of Seattle will come to Seattle to get better paying jobs. Short term this will mean new workers will have a tough time getting jobs in Seattle as they compete with out of town more experienced workers. But, long term, employers in nearby cities will have to raise wages to keep the best employees. So even though the minimum wage wouldn't go up in say, Bellevue, wages eventually would have to. Seattle's MW will set the bar for wages regionally. But this will take time, another argument for phasing
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 3:06 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 71

Given that the city currently can't do anything about wage theft, I'm skeptical. It's already too easy to cook the books, and adding in another factor seems likely to make it worse. Most employees are unable to prove wage theft even with a flat-rate wage. Currently, there are serious consequences for wage theft: real jail time. So where are the arrests and prosecutions?
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 3:11 PM · Report this
@67, reading through the comments on the KIRO News 7 Facebook page, there is a good bit of push back from healthcare workers, teachers, and other people making just over $15. I can tell you that grad students and adjuncts are in that salary range too. A lot of jobs at the City pay in the $14-$18 range. How relevant is this? I'm not sure. What happens to the labor market when the min wage is around the wage paid by jobs requiring a 4 yr degree?
Posted by wxPDX on March 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
@66 - the employee would HAVE to receive $15 per hour on their check. It would be auditable, and we would also have a process for employees to report underpayment too. We should use this same process for all wage theft, and require employers to post about these laws with contact info, as we have to with other employment laws.
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 74
Everything you're saying is already in place. All credit card tips appear on pay checks and everything is accounted for. Trust me, I've been in the restaurant business for fifteen years and "wage theft" is overblown to say the least when it comes to sit down restaurants.
Anyone can take a look at any server's check and see that they make a lot more than 15/hour already.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on March 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
@74 Not all places do this currently, but it certainly would be easy enough to have everyone change over to this system. And trust me, I own few restaurants, and not all restaurants, not even most, do this currently, although it is a trend at the more expensive restaurants.
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 76

I disagree with you like a motherfucker, Dominic.

You and your boss are accusing everyone else of refusing to negotiate. Sawant made it crystal clear to you, in excruciating, repetitive detail, that she will listen to reasonable counteroffers. Your reaction was mindbogglingly pig headed.

You mischaracterize these contrary business positions as mature and reasonable, as if the 15 Now side is acting like children. That's shitty reporting and shitty advocacy. You're back to being a shill after your short Goldy-inspired vacation from shilling.

In short, once again, you and your boss have not given 15 Now a reason to accept less than a solid $15/hr. Instead of admitting you haven't offered any concessions to buy you guys the less than $15 you want, you condescendingly accuse them of overheated rhetoric.

The fact is that 15 Now knows what hand they're holding, and it's a good hand. You and your boss and the businesses you are now shilling for (yes I know you wore different colors way back two months ago, in your younger days. You're so much older now...) have a shitty hand and so you're bluffing.

Tell Keck and Tom Douglas and Dave Meinert to open their books. And tell them to offer something in exchange if they want to pay less than $15 per hour. AND everyone is STILL waiting for you guys to cite one instance of small businesses disappearing after a minimum wage increase. Start with 1988's Initiative 518. What's up with that one, kids? You got a lot of explaining to do right there with 518.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 12, 2014 at 3:46 PM · Report this
@76 - $15Now is well aware, as is Labor, that running an ordinance with no phasing and no total comp and the support of only Sawant, against a $15 initiative supported by a coalition of some labor, the mayor, the rest of the council, the Mayor's income inequality committee, The Stranger and The Seattle times is a loss. $15Now is no longer a viable position any more than doing nothing is. The adults in the room aren't worried about the threat of $15Now running an initiative. It will lose, and it won't get labor money as they are well aware it will lose and aren't going to spend millions on an effort that will obviously lose, especially when there is a sound $15 minimum wage proposal on the table.
Posted by Meinert on March 12, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
nartweag 78
So you don't see a problem with someone who has worked their way up and taken on various responsibilities, getting to know the company, market, products, etc. making the same (or nearly the same) amount as a brand new person who does not have such qualifications?
Sorry, I more than kind of do have a problem with that.
I suppose one could argue, "just go to a company that is paying for that kind of knowledge/qualification"..... but would there be any appropriately paying jobs available? Particularly if you are in a specific field.

I in no way begrudge a person making enough to feed their family. I do have an issue with people who have worked hard to create some semblance of security with their finances suddenly making near minimum wage, and what that means for their buying power.

If an actual co-worker got a raise and I did not, I assume that would be because of something like a performance issue or some such.

I do really wonder what a $15 min. wage would do to that part (people making close to that amount, $15-25)of the market.
Posted by nartweag on March 12, 2014 at 4:11 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 79

I fall within that range, and I can't say I give a shit.

My company doesn't publish pay scales as it is, so I have no idea what my compensation is like compared even to our interns. I also feel stuck due to the fact that all comparable positions asking for my qualifications that I've been able to find lately would require me to take a 25 percent pay cut (even a $15/hour minimum wage would be a 13 percent pay cut for me). That is the reality of the economy right now.

You know what else is the reality of this economy? Zero percent "raises" from 2007 to 2010 and 1-2 percent "raises" thereafter. And we're among the lucky ones.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 80

I should add too, that my company has grown at least 10 percent every year since 2010, and we're supposed to meet a 20 percent growth projection this year. But a 1 percent "raise" is generous.

However much you want to quibble about a $15 minimum wage, the fact remains that this discussion is the logical conclusion to elites in this country bleeding the middle class dry.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 4:33 PM · Report this
@wxpdx, I always tip 20% when eating out and 1 buck per coffee in the morning, but if prices of food goes up due to this I'm most likely going to 10-15% a meal and stop tipping for coffee (when I first moved to here from Canada I got so many dirty looks for tipping in change at coffee shops)
Posted by j2patter on March 12, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
@54 Seattle is stupid enough to pass all three. We did pass an initiative demanding more fund for education while passing an initiative to make it nearly impossible to increase taxes.
Posted by j2patter on March 12, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Hey, Dominic - why don't you reach out to businesses and ask them to furnish you with some monthly P/Ls that show what it'd cost a business to raise to $12.50, then to $15/hr.?

Then ask them to tell you what they'd have to do once they got there. Would they change nothing? Shorten hours? Lay people off? Raise their prices? By how much?

Why has no press asked these obvious questions? It would settle once and for all the doubts that businesses are just lying about the effect that WE know would happen.

*Prices at restaurants would go up by no less than 15%.
*Non-wage contributions to salaries (healthcare, education, bonuses, etc.) would be minimized for employees for many businesses.
*Charitable giving would cease.

These are realities. But, you need to CONFIRM that these are realities. Don't take my word at it.
Posted by I'm Cool on March 12, 2014 at 5:21 PM · Report this
trstr 84
Let's talk about inflexibility a second here:

David Meinert ‏@davidmeinert
@GoodJobsSeattle I am against a tip credit. I am for counting tips in compensation, and honestly, there is not deal without that.

Meinert says "fuck you" unless he gets an exemption specifically crafted for his large business again. How shocking.
Posted by trstr on March 12, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
nartweag 85
I also have no idea what others in my company make, except within my department as a manager. I only mentioned the co-worker thing as a reply to #42.
As a manager, responsible for so much more than someone I would hire, I would be pissed to be making little more than they are.....

Frankly your realities look great compared to what I dealt with (and continue to deal with) during this recession and recovery. So, yes you are among the lucky ones. No need to play "who has it worse" to know things have sucked and continue to for many people.

I agree with your assertion that companies are expecting so much while giving so little but, I'm confused how this $15 minimum wage will in any way help the middle class?
Posted by nartweag on March 12, 2014 at 6:36 PM · Report this
@38 this was one of the points the 15now missed in the owner of Elliott bay books comment on this. He said he'd have to raise the wages of people who currently make more than min wage to keep the wage relative to the responsibility of the worker. But he'd have to lay people off to do this. Everyone ignore this remake and just screamed that he should be able to afford 15/hour per person
Posted by j2patter on March 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 87

Back to the condescension. Did calling yourselves the "adults" keep your guy Richard Conlin in his seat? You think The Seattle Times going to be on the winning side of this?

If you believed 15Now had no chance of winning a solid $15/hr at the ballot box you'd walk away now and stand back and watch it go down in flames. The only reason you're playing this game now is to try to get yourself a better hand than the losing cards you're holding now.

Open your books, Dave. Nobody believes you, so show us your books.

And explain to us, please, why hospitality employment grew after 518 passed in 1988. How come you never talk about that?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 12, 2014 at 9:11 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 88
Anyone else fee a little vomit coming up having recently watched "12 Years A Slave" and then coming up against these owners talking down at workers in poverty, calling themselves "adults" and calling those fighting for a living wage "children"? What's next? Will I be called "boy"?

And this after fucking Tom Douglas says, oh yeah, cooks, they're white and they're male. Give them a raise. Why? So they can buy a house for the wife and kids! Says Tom Douglas. But wait staff? Women. Coloreds. They don't need a raise. Too child-like to handle money and anyway, shouldn't they have a man to take care of them?

Can you BELIEVE that shit? That's the "adults in the room" talking at you, brothers and sisters.

Fuck this paternalistic condensation. Fuck that.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 12, 2014 at 9:20 PM · Report this
Do you really believe that cooks in the kitchen are primarily white and wait staff are predominantly women & people of color? Have you ever been to a restaurant? Seems like you have the disparity issue backwards there...
Posted by M. Wells on March 12, 2014 at 9:29 PM · Report this

No. No no no. Two year phase-in, tops. Anything less and we should go straight to the ballot.
Posted by Lack Thereof on March 12, 2014 at 10:09 PM · Report this
I believe that this issue should go straight to the ballot as since this will affect the lives of all Seattlites, we should all have a vote on it.

City council members are going to be damned if they do, damned if they don't if they actually try to touch this hot potato.
Posted by StrangerThingsHaveHappened on March 12, 2014 at 10:40 PM · Report this
@88, did you just compare the people who want 15 min wage, but phased in and with protects for small business, to slave owners? You're a fucking idiot.
Posted by j2patter on March 12, 2014 at 11:06 PM · Report this
Machiavelli 93
Did the Capital Hill restaurant owners / advertisers pressure The Stranger to change their editorial position on $15Hr Now?

Did The Stranger fire Goldy over the restaurant owners complaints?
Posted by Machiavelli on March 13, 2014 at 12:59 AM · Report this
@88 did Tom Douglas say his cooks were white males?
Posted by Moresanity on March 13, 2014 at 6:49 AM · Report this
@93, Duh.

@38, This thinking that I can't stand it if there isn't someone else for me to be better than is astounding but surprisingly prevalent. I have seen people prefer to be non-union so they could make more than the other guy even if they made less.

Everybody wants to feel sorry for small business, but look at the real effect of exempting them. First, many of the large national chain hotels, restaurants, etc. are franchises, and the business entity with the actual employees are often small businesses.

Also look at the incentives that you create. If small businesses have a lower wage you will suddenly see all kinds of subcontractor schemes with the employees working for a labor broker. In industries where this has happened like construction and farm work, abuse is now the norm.
Posted by wl on March 13, 2014 at 7:03 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 96
@52: This is your issue, you are unable to undestand the situation because you are operating under the fallacy that every person making poverty wages or forced to work a shitty job is doing so by choice.

Your idea that this is a chose lifestlye and not the result of impersonal social/economic issues makes it impossible for you to enter the debate in good faith since you do not understand the basis of the problem.

Keep trying!
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 13, 2014 at 7:48 AM · Report this
John Horstman 97
"Tipped employee" exemptions are utter bullshit. The ONLY purpose is to allow employers to exploit labor by not paying employees what they deserve - if you're working a minimum wage job, you're not really in a position to risk losing that job (or to be able to sue for compensation if you do) by demanding that your employer make up the difference between your actual pay and the nominal minimum. Adopt a universal minimum wage and we can simply stop tipping for any reason other than truly exceptional service, with advertising of actual prices and no free riders skating along by paying less than the actual cost of their meals by not tipping (passing the cost on to other customers or the business owners). It's a win for everyone except assholes who already don't tip and exploitative employers, and why should they ever win?

Exempting "small businesses" is also no good. If you can't afford to run a business without exploiting labor, than you should not be running that business, end of story. Small businesses that rely on exploitation to exist should not exist - if they close, that a POSITIVE outcome.
Posted by John Horstman on March 13, 2014 at 8:45 AM · Report this

Washington State has the highest minimum wage in the land. The notion that a sudden and radical shift to $15/hour - in this jurisdiction only - renders heretofore solid business owning citizens as 1%ers "relying on exploitation" is utter fucking bullshit.

Posted by Mr. X on March 13, 2014 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 99

He just said he somehow saw some special quality in cooks and chefs that made him think they deserved to buy a house. And then he said tipped employees, not so much.

So I don't know. What special quality do cooks have that makes them deserving of membership in the middle class that tipped employees lack? Do tipped employees deserve to live in poverty because they're 80% female? Or maybe it's some other reason?

Who knows what special difference Douglas sees in one group and not the other.

But when you look at the outcome, you end up making the sex and race disparity in pay worse. The outcome of his proposal is women and minorities stay in poverty and white males move up a little.

So you can believe that racism and sexism are something that only exist in your heart. Or you can believe that racism is as racism does, and sexism is as sexism does. I see racism and sexism there because the outcome is racist and sexist.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 13, 2014 at 9:18 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 100

Truth hurts, baby.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 13, 2014 at 9:21 AM · Report this

"Truth" my ass, kid.

Seriously - get some life experience along with that college degree. In 20 years, after you've owned and/or helped run a business or two, you're going to realize just how juvenile your comments seem.
Posted by Mr. X on March 13, 2014 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Who thinks inflation is good? Raise your hands.
Posted by seatownr on March 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Ramping up minimum wage an extra $7 every year won't get anyone out of poverty, as that extra money becomes worthless.

Doing something to improve your marketable skills in the labor market, and not having kids you can't afford, are the true ways to avoid poverty.
Posted by seatownr on March 13, 2014 at 10:33 AM · Report this
nartweag 104
It isn't a matter of being "better than" it's a matter of putting in the effort to work ones way up and gain skills and have added responsibilities and suddenly be making the same as a brand new employee. I still would have all the responsibilities (stress included) and none of the reward.
A pretty simple question I think, difficult answer, but simple question.

I don't understand where this backlash to my sincere question is coming from. Has no one else ever taken on additional responsibilities at a job specifically for better pay/job advancement? I've worked at my current employer ( in one way or another, recession sucked) for over a decade, and suddenly I would be making similar pay to the next person we hire? My employer would not be able to raise current employee's pay by anywhere near 50%.
Maybe I should just leave my job, start fresh (taking my skills with me) to a new place making similar pay and work up from there. Less responsibility/ similar pay.....
If lots of people did that, how would that be beneficial to less skilled/qualified/experienced employees? Would they even be able to get any job in Seattle?

I think these are very fair questions that seem to be glossed over in this discussion. Making me the "bad guy" because I want to make significantly more than minimum wage, as a seasoned employee with decades of experience doesn't add anything to the discussion.

I have to assume you are not specifically talking to me about exemptions and such since I made no mention of any of that.
Posted by nartweag on March 13, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Dave Meinert is a professional troll. He's spending his leisure time telling the people responsible for his leisure time that they aren't worth as much as they think they are. Considering that $15/hour is merely a living wage, he's telling them they don't deserve a basic, dignified life. That's disgusting.

I worked in food service until very recently. Now I have a job that pays just under $15/hour. I still struggle a bit, but at least I can afford to eat more than twice a day. I had medical bills and rent to pay each month, which only left me with enough money for breakfast and dinner and nothing else. It wasn't fancy and it sure as hell wasn't an "unsustainable lifestyle." I was thin to begin with, but I lost like 12 pounds because I couldn't afford decent food.

I worked with a woman whose husband left her suddenly. She had two kids in grade school. My boss hired her to clean and maintain two separate restaurants from 2-10am for minimum wage. She had a degree, yet could only find that job. And guess what? When she finally received overtime, my boss said that since she was working in two places instead of one (both of which my boss owned), her pay check would be split and she wouldn't be receiving any overtime. These are the "small business" owners complaining about paying their employees enough to eat. How can anyone with a basic sense of empathy be against an immediate $15/hour raise?

But back to Dave Meinert. Why is this asshole allowed to mess around with our government? When did we elect him? Why are we even listening to this prick? If he's on the minimum wage task force, it's pretty obvious he's not working in good faith.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM · Report this
So your argument is that if minimum wage becomes $15/hr, then your server will need to make $10 in tips, or 3% of their $300 sales for the slow night, in order to tip out and take home the same money as they would today? And you don't believe that will happen? That's an interesting argument, but what evidence have you got for tipping suddenly completely disappearing if minimum wage is raised? Is it that you personally would stop tipping anyone, or people you know are saying that they would?
Posted by citation needed on March 13, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this

Will the last business leaving Seattle, please turn off the lights!

Posted by mistral on March 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Dominic Holden 108
Hey, @93. Goldy is no longer employed at The Stranger. We can't go into details about personnel matters. But Goldy wrote about it on Horse's Ass. I wrote on Twitter the same day: "I'm going to miss working with @GoldyHA. He's a brilliant writer and I wish him the best." As for outside business group pressure (which I haven't heard about) or anyone's positions inside the paper, they play zero factor, but Goldy did write on his blog about some of the stuff he couldn't write at The Stranger.
Posted by Dominic Holden on March 13, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this

Because he's a successful (at least as far as I can tell) business owner and a major stakeholder in this process.

What's your claim to fame and/or relevance? Why the fuck does your opinion matter?

I work for a homeless shelter, have more than a basic sense of empathy, and think that an instant increase to $15/hr is sheer lunacy.

You don't get to define this debate, or who can participate in it. Sorry.

Posted by Mr. X on March 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM · Report this
JF 110
@96 I suppose that's a matter of opinion. Of course, I can show you that the guy chose to get out of bed, go the business and applied for the job all through his own free will. You on the other hand have the unenviable task of trying to prove to me that he was forced to do so through magical forces that are beyond his control. Was it a spell? Perhaps a curse was laid upon him by some evil white business owner...

So if you can show me how he didn't make those choices, I'm more than willing to listen, but you and I both know you can't. You deal in bullshit, I deal in reality.
Posted by JF on March 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Report this

He's not that successful if paying a living wage will put him out of business. The people who can't afford to feed their children probably have a larger stake in the minimum wage fight than the guy who owns multiple businesses. Human life is more important than profit.

My opinion matters no more than your opinion, or Dave's opinion, or Dominic's opinion. If that's your major point, I'll certainly concede it. But the idea that we must bow down to the wisdom of business owners who are defining the debate right now (as you accuse me of doing), and who are attempting to invalidate a moral argument with a fear-based argument derived from a flawed economic model, is absolutely insane. The fact that this guy gets a free stage in the local media to complain about wages is equally ridiculous.

Congratulations on your poverty tourism, though. Try living it.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this

We went from middle class to poor when I was 8 years old and my parents split up. I've never been homeless, thank goodness, but I've definitely been hungry, and have watched my mother worry about whether she'd be able to pay the rent. You don't know me or anything about where I've been and/or what I've done - so take that "poverty tourism" crap and stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

How many small businesses have you opened, and then sustained after opening them? Try getting $100,000-250,000 together, investing several years of your time putting in 60-80 hour workweeks, and then go ahead and get back to us on how you would define "success" in a state that already has the highest minimum wage in the country before implementing a sudden increase of over 60%.

Posted by Mr. X on March 13, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 113

Great Cthulhu asks not that we get these college degrees you bleat on about. He only asks we fear Him.

You know what we've heard before? We've heard "when YOU'VE owned a business, then YOU will know better!" You know when we've heard it? Every single fucking time we have raised the minimum wage.

We heard the same shit over the smoking ban. We heard the same shit over health coverage. Always the same fucking shit: WE business owners know better. We business owners will mansplain it to you children. When you've owned a business, you'll know how right we are.

You fuckers are wrong every time. Every fucking time. Nobody here believes this bullshit any more. It's not working.

You know who buys your shit? Idaho. Texas. Oklahoma. Want to pay shit wages with no benefits to non-union chattel? There's the door, baby. Go.

Yet here you are. In the state with the highest wages in the country, some of the highest mandatory benefits, and all that other "COMMUNISM" Fox News lies about every day.

If you believed any of your own rhetoric, you'd not be here. You'd be out in bum fuck Idaho enjoying the "business friendly" government. Why aren't you there? Because Idaho is a shithole? Because Houston is a shithole?

Oops, I think I just figured out what's wrong with "Business Friendly™". Can you guess what it is?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
JF 114
@113 It's because I can't run my business from those places. I'm literally stuck here dealing with children like you who only have opinions, but no experience.
Posted by JF on March 13, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
FFS, stop using the term "living wage" if you don't know what it means. Regardless of whether $15/hr is a living wage currently in the city of Seattle, this is not a discussion about enacting living wage legislation because the living wage _changes_. Living wage laws recognize that, set metrics for adjusting the living wage periodically, and set the adjustment period. This is a discussion about enacting a higher minimum, thassit. It's not a discussion about how $15/hr only gets us back to where the minimum wage was in 1970 (adjusted for inflation). It's not a discussion about wage vs. educational or experiential requirements. It's not a discussion about increased worker productivity, continuing education, or anything else that's changed in the workplace to create profit for employers that isn't realized in any part by employees over the past 30 years. If minimum wage had kept up with growth and production over that time period, it would be a bit above $20. So as several folks have already said here, $15/hr IS a compromise. It's beyond a compromise. It's asking the bully nicely to give you back your lunch money instead of getting all the kids together that he's picked on and stomping his ass. Sawant is only radical because of a nationwide case of Stockholm syndrome.
Posted by MsCatonic on March 13, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this

You're still ignoring the simple fact that people can't live a decent life on the current minimum wage, no matter how high it is in relation to the rest of the country. If you work full time, you should, at the very least, be able to afford a decent life, right? I doubt you'd disagree with me on this, especially considering your history.

Claiming that you know better because you've run a business is a silly appeal to authority. Why not concentrate on the facts?

If adjusted for inflation, the national minimum wage would be about $10.50/hour. If adjusted for productivity, it would be about $22.00/hour. $15/hour sits nicely between those two. It is a compromise. There are studies from Berkley, which Dominic posted today, showing that a raise in the minimum will have little to no impact on business. We know from past increases in the minimum that there will be no catastrophic, business-destroying consequences (check out Initiative 518). We know that when the poor/middle class have more money, it's better for the economy as a whole. We know that wages have remained stagnant for years.

If you disagree, I'd love to see your hard evidence. Show me data proving otherwise, not fear-based hypotheticals.


Was the "living wage" comment directed toward me?

"Living wage is defined by the wage that can meet the basic needs to maintain a safe, decent standard of living within the community."

If the minimum doesn't meet a living wage, then explain to me why that fact shouldn't be brought up as a justification to raise the minimum? I'm not disagreeing with your bully sentiment, just wondering why you'd handicap yourself by not bringing up that fact.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 13, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Posted by 5th Columnist on March 13, 2014 at 5:56 PM · Report this
Any chance other cities will have their own Kshama Sawant soon?
Posted by 5th Columnist on March 13, 2014 at 6:01 PM · Report this
@99 all races, male and female make up his cooking staff. He chose to increase their wage because he was fortunate enough to be able to do so. As well, his front of house including waitstaff actually make more than the cooks. This is standard in the industry. Ask more questions if you really want to understand the dynamics of the restaurant business. Happy to answer.
Posted by Moresanity on March 13, 2014 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 120

Pretty sure "business friendly" blankets the nation, with only a few islands of Euro-welfare-socialism here and there. Pretty hard to believe you really have to do business here among all the pinkos.

But maybe so. You know what you should do? The same thing that Meinert and Douglas need to do: Open your books. Put up or shut up. Nobody believes this tale of woe and doom, so open your books and prove it, if it's really true that this will ruin you.

Or don't. I'm happy with taking this to the voters and winning that way.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 13, 2014 at 7:25 PM · Report this
I think it is mostly the middle class & wealthy that eat at a lot of these restaurants. The poor folks earning minimum wage could never afford to eat there in the first place. So they raise the price of my plate $5 so they can pay folks a living wage. If the food is good I will still eat there. wasn't there a huff post article that said if McD's raised the price of bigMac by 54 cents that everyone in the ENTIRE COMPANY could earn DOUBLE their wages?
Posted by bonehead on March 13, 2014 at 7:36 PM · Report this
@120 Douglas opened his financials ON TV! If that is not enough the we can't help you. So please help all of us believe your point of view by offering your credentials. We all know what Douglas has done for the Seattle community. I trust he speaks the truth and has done so in person and not behind a screen name. Please tell us what you have contributed to this community, how much you pay your employees or how much you have given to charity, including the homeless, disadvantaged and those in poverty. Tom Douglas has, how about you?
Posted by Moresanity on March 13, 2014 at 8:16 PM · Report this
My company is NOT in the restaurant business. We compete with other manufacturers OUTSIDE Seattle. My company cannot just pass along the cost of a wage increase to our customers.

If this goes through, I will have these options: move the company outside Seattle or fire the low end workforce. Neither of these options yield what the proponents of this stupidity claim to want.
Posted by delbert on March 14, 2014 at 12:15 AM · Report this
@113 he's not in Idaho because they have state income tax there. he makes out financially by being here. the upper quintile folks owning these small businesses -- while we only think of the teriyaki shop type bizness, there's just as many chiro clinics, dentists, lawyers, architects, massage salons, nail salons where the owner is making $900K or $200K -- are so undertaxed in Washington state they only pay 4% of their total income in state and local while in Idaho it's pretty much 9% across every quintile. so all these business folks who don't pay income tax are whining about paying employees more? fuck 'em. enough talk. Tell Sawant to introduce the bill and have a council vote on it in two weeks and then BOOM put in the initiative and let's just vote it in. there's so much phooey that passes for talk it's ridiculous. and tom douglas opened his books? he opened his books to show it's $50 million revenue total and so who cares let him pay more. now. about exemptions. yes, look at the comment by the guy who knew someone employed to clean two restaurants to avoid paying overtime. ANY time you say there's an exemption business will ABUSE it. ANY small business can magically be divided into two separate companies, or four! to get under the revenue threshold or number of employees threshold if we start putting in small businexx exemptions. and they will. this is what lawyers are FOR. if we make the MW law a swiss cheese of exemptions 30% of the workers will be left out of the cold and that's cruel.
Posted by underpay taxes, underpay workers on March 14, 2014 at 5:46 AM · Report this
I think this debate has missed the fundamental fact that "minimum wage" has nothing to do with a "guarantee of financial security" or a "living wage".

That is not its purpose, any more than social security is designed to be one's sole source of support in retirement.

The minimum wage is a minimum pay level at which "individuals enter the job market", not a subsistence level or a pay scale on which one derives a "decent life or livable wage".

The whole notion of $15/hour leading the huddled masses out of poverty is so naive and woefully deficient of economic understanding and reality that it borders on lunacy.

What the business owners are opining about significant layoffs, price increases and relocation outside Seattle are indeed the realities of the emerging $15/Now landscape.

Posted by mistral on March 14, 2014 at 10:04 AM · Report this
JF 126
@120 I need Seattle's proximity to the port, so honestly, I just can't move my business to another city.

This change wouldn't even affect me so there is no need for me to open my books.

You asked why I can't move and I told you why.
Posted by JF on March 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
15 Now = Occupy Movement = Communism = Suck.

Arbitrary increases in wages amounts to price setting, which is objectively going to have a negative impact on our economy. No one can state affirmatively how the $15 amount was arrived at. Not one comment on that other than Nick Hannauer, followed by some studies funded by Nick Hannauer. Sorry folks, this is objectively flawed analysis.

Raise the minimum wage 10% or whatever, but 60%? You have to be kidding right? Even a flaming liberal can see through that.

This is not doom and gloom, this is objectively baseless and arbitrary. Our economy will not fair well under such ridiculous tinkering.
Posted by Petedawg7 on March 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM · Report this
15 Now = Occupy Movement = Communism = Suck.

Arbitrary increases in wages amounts to price setting, which is objectively going to have a negative impact on our economy. No one can state affirmatively how the $15 amount was arrived at. Not one comment on that other than Nick Hannauer, followed by some studies funded by Nick Hannauer. Sorry folks, this is objectively flawed analysis.

Raise the minimum wage 10% or whatever, but 60%? You have to be kidding right? Even a flaming liberal can see through that.

This is not doom and gloom, this is objectively baseless and arbitrary. Our economy will not fair well under such ridiculous tinkering.
Posted by PeteDawg7 on March 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM · Report this
I own two restaurants with 34 employees between them. In restaurants the standard business model is 30% of Sales to Labor, 30% to COGS, 30% to rent, water, garbage, etc, and a 10% profit margin. Here are the 2012 tax figures for the first restaurant which has been in business 6 yrs......

2012 Sales $1,412,093
2012 Employee Wages $424,836 (30.08%)
2012 Profit $164,110 (11%)-split between 3 investors

Now if you add a 60% wage increase of $254,901 that $164,110 profit becomes a loss of $90,791. How do we deal with that, you guessed it cut labor & raise prices.

The 2nd restaurant was opened in July 13', and is still trying to get it's feet underneath it, and is finally about breaking even after losing $ the first couple months. It would immediately be losing $9-$10k per month if forced 60% wage increase were to occur. This 2nd restaurant would be immediately put up for sale so as to not drag down the first restaurant where I raised prices & cut labor to survive. I would try to open a 2nd location in Edmonds where more and more people would be moving & dining due to the rising costs of King County.

The other affect it would have on the employee is a leveling of all income. If tipped employees are now making $15/hr do you think the chef I am currently paying $15-17/hr would still be happy? No of course not. What I and several of my other restaurant owner friends discussed doing is putting an end to cash tips. All tips would be put on employee paychecks with front of house now sharing an increased percentage of their tips with the kitchen, they already tip out the kitchen now 3% of food sales, but that would like jump up to 10% to accommodate the increased kitchen pay necessary.

So speaking from my own small business owners perspective it would require a 18% price increase at the 1st restaurant to maintain current margins. I would close the 2nd to open someplace else where I could build the business without losing $9-10k month while doing so, costing 14 King County jobs. And lastly it would level out the income distribution amongst the staff, which you might be able to argue is a good thing depending on your perspective, but it is hard to argue the other two consequences would be good from any perspective.

The highest purchasing power minimum wage ever had was in 1968 @ $1.60/hr if adjusted for inflation that would be $10.74/hr. This is not too far off Washington's $9.32 which is adjusted yearly for CPI. As a small business owner I would support $10.74, I would even support $12 if it was phased in, but $15 is driven by radical ideology with no data to show that wouldn't cripple small businesses nor harm the economy. The reason there is no data to support it is because there has never been a one time minimum wage increase this large.

Income inequality is an issue for sure, but it is better addressed in the tax code than hurting small local businesses which this would assuredly do.
Posted by small business owner on March 14, 2014 at 1:36 PM · Report this
thank you, 129, for the admirable display of logic and reason amongst so much emotionally driven garbage
Posted by zang on March 14, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Machiavelli 131
From Capital Hill Blog:
"Isn’t the Stranger notorious for articles that are basically ads for their favorite places?"

Apparently the Stranger is well known for their "Advertorials".

Congratulations on the new position Mr. Holden, Advertorial writer/Editor. That seems to sum up this puff piece on $15 Now.
Quickly dismissing $15 Now as somehow fatally unworkable, the piece presents the local (mostly food service) owner's favorite gerrymandering schemes. I love the passive aggressive way the owners explain how perfectly sensible their money grabbing schemes are.

I like the Stranger when it is doing real reporting, not so much when they are shilling for local penny-ante business owners. The Stranger has jumped in with both feet to promote their advertiser's schemes.
Posted by Machiavelli on March 14, 2014 at 3:32 PM · Report this

You believe that people should work full-time and still live in poverty, then? I hope you didn't tear any pages when you stepped out of your Charles Dickens novel to teach us about the economy.

No one believes that the entirety of the "huddled masses," as you put it, will be pulled out of poverty because of one piece of legislation. The idea is to improve the lives of people who are already working and still struggling. It would also be appropriate to see the productivity gains of the last twenty or so years reflected in the wages of the people who made those gains possible.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the minimum wage would be $21.72/hour if it matched the gains in productivity since 1968. Demanding $15 is not unreasonable in this case, as it sits approximately halfway between inflation and productivity.

Here's the CEPR brief:…

Dick Conway, a well-respected regional economist who has worked with companies like Boeing and Microsoft, as well as sitting on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors, also thinks that a $15/hour minimum makes sense. The exact number he found to be fair was $16.82/hour.

Seeing as how restaurants in Washington have already survived a wage increase of 85% in the past (Initiative 518), your claims of outright economic turmoil seem suspect.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Raising the minimum wage is one way to counteract the Union's most regressive system of state-level taxation. ---
Posted by 5th Columnist on March 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM · Report this
There is a lot of great conversation going on around here, including in the comments.

I totally agree we need to hammer away for a living wage for all workers.

In the meantime, something we can do (if we are not already) is patronize small businesses and, if you can spare it, share some of your disposable income. We can help face-to-face right now.
Posted by jgrant3919 on March 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
@132 productivity increases in restaurants since 1968 are pretty much flat. Menu price inflation combined with the growth of the average tip % (used to be around 10% now closer to 20%)means the tipped employee total wage has grown far above inflation and cost of living in spite of no gains in productivity.
Posted by Moresanity on March 14, 2014 at 5:24 PM · Report this
@132 "Seeing as how restaurants in Washington have already survived a wage increase of 85% in the past (Initiative 518), your claims of outright economic turmoil seem suspect."

518 was passed in 1988 & was by CPI increases in Seattle of 4.8% in 89', 7.3% in 90, & 5.8% in 91'. These are the 3 highest rates of inflation in since 1988 when the initiative passes. I am not suggesting that raising the minimum wage was a factor in this spike in inflation, but to suggest it plays no factor in inflation is just plain ignorant.…

"The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the minimum wage would be $21.72/hour if it matched the gains in productivity since 1968"

Are you trying to suggest that the workers are responsible for this increase in productivity, and not technology & the invention of computers? Even your own CEPR study states that at it's highest purchasing power in 1968 adjusted for inflation minimum wage would be between $10.01-$10.52 in 2012. Of course you leave that fact out, only citing productivity measures trying to give credit & pay to minimum wage workers for technological advances that they have little to do with how hard people work, in fact usually these advances allowed people to be more productive while working less hard.
Posted by small business owner on March 14, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Inflation only hurts rich people. Stop listening to Tom Douglas and his bankers. Inflation caused by worker wages is good for the 99%. I am an idiot in a red shirt but not a fool. Join us on Saturday. Judkins Park tomorrow 1:00PM.
Posted by DaveJustice on March 14, 2014 at 9:41 PM · Report this
@132 No one said that people should work full time and live in poverty. Let's dial the "drama back a notch or two".

You missed the point entirely...

minimum wage was never conceived as a "living wage" but a "beginning wage for workers entering the work force.

The vast, vast majority of people starting on min wage gain skills, education and learn how to work more productively and thus increase their earnings...ergo make more per hour.

This is a fact.

For those who can't rise above the min. wage pay rate for whatever reason, there are vast, vast numbers of government and private programs to assist. Just run your finger down the government phone directory and you'll find literally hundreds of public assistant agencies.

What your camp has repeatedly failed to understand is that simply raising the min wage isn't the answer to the problem.

Education, developing skills, productivity are the solutions to the problem you are trying to solve.

Simply saying "pay more" isn't really going to work.

The minimum wage should be calculated as a function of average median wage per hour.

45% to 50% x avg hourly wage = min wage

Indexing to inflation is a less accurate means of computation as it tends to miss the element of productivity.

If you would actually read the "cite you quoted", you will see the min wage indicated isn't even close to $15/hour....its actually very close to what I suggested yesterday in a related article.

Please see…

See Comment #27

There has much that has been said about the SF Case cited, but it lacks credibility as the increase in min. wage enacted was already being paid in the main by businesses.

Thus it really had no effect on businesses as they were already paying in the aggregate, a rate above min wage at the time.

Interesting, that even without the min wage increase enacted, businesses were already paying at or above the min wage level imposed.

I hope this helps to clarify what appears to be a great multitude of misconceptions you are carrying around.

Posted by mistral on March 15, 2014 at 8:48 AM · Report this
139 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I am a mid-size business. I think that I would not be burdened by this as my staff are likely over the 15.00. But treating large vs. small businesses differently is ridiculous. Income is a matter of revenues exceeding costs. Many a large company has failed while a small one has succeeded wildly.

Perhaps proponents want to avoid making it personal and having to look in the eye individuals who are impacted, while ignoring so-called corporations.

By the way, have hated and always will hate tipping. Give me a good reason to stop and I and others will gladly take it. How about paying hospitality workers like other businesses do. Many a country does just that and the world as we know it does not end. I would be happy to pay 15% more for my meal, knowing that there is no entitled person expecting me to pay more. And don't get me started at the extended palms at hotels, where I am made to feel like a subhuman when I deign to carry my own bag.
Posted by Park Place on March 15, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 141

Ha! I knew it.

On the one hand you think only those with your "experience" are qualified to talk about the minimum wage. On the other hand, you have fuck all experience running a business that depends on minimum wage workers.

Don't know if you heard, but Texas and the whole Gulf Coast on up the Atlantic seaboard are all "business friendly" states. Why not move to a shithole like say, Houston, or Mobile? They got ports and you can get your ass kissed for being a "job creator".

Weird how there's so much wealth in a city like Seattle, isn't it? They let the poor talk! Yet the money's all here, and not in Pocatello?

Something doesn't add up.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 15, 2014 at 3:38 PM · Report this
I'm convinced. Let's just legislate our way to prosperity then! I never knew that eliminating poverty could be as simple as mandating that employers pay more. Why didn't we just do that in the first place?
Posted by StrangerThingsHaveHappened on March 15, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
A $15/hour minimum wage does not require any employer to pay anyone $15/hour; it merely outlaws all jobs that are worth less. Anyone who cannot produce $15 of value each hour will--eventually--be out of work, either because their employer lets them go or because he does not and goes out of business by overpaying for labor. There is no way around this economic reality.
Posted by Econ101 on March 15, 2014 at 9:16 PM · Report this
@142 from the 1930s to about 1981 we DID legislate prosperity defined as a growing middle class and growing income levels for working class. then reaganism really took hold, of both parties, and the middle and working class have been in decline. we CAN legislate growth; and did so! policies including higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy -- this frees up money the poor need to take care of themselves and climb the ladders. increasing minimum wage. pro labor unions. pro government. socialism as in paying lots of people to go to college. building public assets. stuff like that. new deal plus liberalism worked. it stopped working, when we stopped doing it. you want growth in the bottom half again, not just the tip top, do the same policies and a large hike in a min wage we've let decline for forty years or more is a great place to start!
Posted by we can legislate prosperity, we did! on March 16, 2014 at 5:50 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 145

The rich are not different. They're not smarter, they're not better. They just have more money. Give more money to poor people and they stop being poor. It's actually that easy.

The think that makes a Republican a Republican is that they look at wealth and delude themselves into believing the rich are people of fine character. They're not. They just -- for the moment -- won the rigged capitalist game.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Give more money to poor people and they stop being poor.
Why do many lottery winners go bankrupt?

HALF of solving poverty is getting $ into people's hands. The OTHER half is the responsibility of the formerly poor person to learn how to MANAGE it. Your comment makes it sound as if there were no thinking or planning involved in making money grow, but nothing could be further from the truth. It also reinforces the false notion that being rich is all simply luck - ya just gotta be the right color/gender etc...just show up and money is showered onto you for no particular reason. No thinking, no innovating, no risk...just money money money and more money.

That is most of the problem with fight poverty programs: money is treated like penicillin killing a bacteria: all you need is to be "inoculated" with a higher wage and...POOF..problem gone.

"It's actually that easy."

My god, why do I even READ this crap?
Posted by AinWA on March 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this

The reason I threw the ol' quotes around "huddled masses" was to highlight the drama in your word choice. And what I said wasn't even close to dramatic: If we know a living wage in Washington sits around $16/hour, and if we know the minimum wage is currently $9.32/hour, then obviously some people are working full-time and still living below the poverty line. This is not difficult to understand. If you're putting forth an argument which justifies keeping the minimum wage below the poverty line, then it would seem that you believe people should work full-time and still live in poverty. Going on government assistance, as you mentioned, only subsidizes the profits of major corporations.

Of course people can better themselves through education. Education is so outrageously expensive, though, that people either determine it's not worth the money, or they find themselves in serious debt after graduation with only the prospect of a minimum wage job available to them. If the only jobs available to people my age - despite education and hard work - are minimum wage jobs (or near minimum wage jobs), then we need to make those jobs livable. Your theoretical models don't take this into account.

I also notice you didn't disagree with the staggering $21.72/hour productivity number that was provided, or even bring up the 85% wage increase that I-518 mandated. Is that, perhaps, because there is no possible response which fits your ideology?

P.S. "a great multitude" is redundant.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 16, 2014 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 148

About one percent of lottery winners go bankrupt, while about one half a percent of the general population goes bankrupt. One percent is not very many!

Even if you are stuck on the fact that that measly 1% is twice the rate of the general population, keep in mind that the average millionaire goes bankrupt 3.5 times! But in the fucked up Republican mindset this is proof that "job creators" are "risk takers"!

And that's cool! Because when lottery winners go bankrupt, it shows they deserve to be poor. When the rich do it, it shows they gots big balls! Derp.

(Or... maybe it's evidence that somebody's head is up their ass.)
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 16, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
You have got to be the biggest idiot walking the earth if you actually believe the crap you type.

I would push back with lowering the minimum wage as it stands now, unless the people shouting for an immediate jump in the minimum wage can prove they are posses a similar jump in productivity or job skills. Fact is, most of these people the under-educated, have shit for real job skills, and have a history of making crappy life choices - repeatedly. There is a reason people, apparently like many posters here(read: you) inhabit the bottom rungs of society: its because that's were you currently belong.

You want to make more? fine, then go get some skills that merit a higher income. It really is that easy. All the other bullshit is just that: bullshit. If $15now passes, I hope all you idiots lose your jobs.

maybe you can do something you are good at, like smoking pot(losers) and breaking windows at the nearest "protest".
Posted by tired of supporting the lazy and the stupid on March 16, 2014 at 4:48 PM · Report this

There is a bit of truth in what you say, yes some poor people need to learn to manage their money better. The same could be said about some rich people.

But really, that's not the point. $15 an hour is not enough to be able to save enough to make your money "grow." For the working poor, 15 means a somewhat less chance of falling further in debt. Not saving. Saving would require 20 or 25 an hour.
Posted by Leticia on March 16, 2014 at 6:31 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 151

It's a fact. People with money go bankrupt. "Self made", inherited, lottery. Doesn't matter. You made the testable claim that poor people can't handle their money and the evidence shows that the poor do no worse than your "respectable" millionaires. Look at the facts yourself.

And once again you think you can scare people talking about losing jobs. Got any facts? Have jobs been lost anywhere after a minimum wage increase? How come you guys keep harping on job losses but you never cite any examples? Why isn't unemployment in Washington high? Australia has over $15 minimum wage -- how come they have jobs there? And how come no business has opened their books to prove their hysterical predictions of doom?

Name calling. Bluster. Bluffing. Hypothetical doom. Same old thing.

Why don't you guys have any facts? Doesn't it bug you that you never cite any facts? If you're having trouble why you're losing this debate, I'll tell you: you guys never cite any actual facts.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on March 16, 2014 at 6:44 PM · Report this
The minimum wage is not designed to be a "living wage".

It is designed as a minimum wage level for those entering the job market so people can get started and frankly get a start in the work place.

I repeat and augment this comment.

The remainder of your dialogue is well silly.

I can't make it.

I can't get an education. Its too expensive.

I can't move up getting better job skills.

I can't live on min. wage or economize for a better future...even though there are myriads of programs, grants and government assistance readily available to me.

I get it. You a quitter.

Very simple. So your answer is just give me money so I don't have to make an effort.

If you look at my comments:…

You'll see I address your comments about I-518, the SF Study and a more reasonable min. wage level based on productivity and avg. hourly wage rates.

Productivity isn't achieved by simply paying more. Productivity in the labor force is achieved through EFFORT, better skills, education and job training. (hint, hint).

If you make an EFFORT are more productive, you get paid more. I didn't put forth this has been with us since the dawn of time.

If you really think anyone would hire you for $15/hour, given what I've read above, then with all sincerity, I suggest you get well acquainted with the public assistance system. You'll need it.

I've provided the link here to the discussion of min wage vis-a-vis I-518 and the SF Study so you don't have to make any additional effort.

Posted by mistral on March 17, 2014 at 8:38 AM · Report this
One of the disturbing issues (in a sea of many, many disturbing issues) that hasn't been brought up is the regional impact this can have this is put up to a vote. Specifically, the commuters. Seriously. How many of the over 200,000 daily commuters to Seattle earn from minimum wage to ~$20/hr? What about their say? What about the impact they'll feel, both in the city and branching out in all directions from the city? Last I checked, they pay taxes (not property taxes, in most cases), spend money within the city, and are an important cylinder in the economic engine. That's a big chunk of a regional workforce that is at the mercy of platitude-infested politicians, or, as described by local socialist organizations, "militant activists." This is scary stuff, where pandering could have catastrophic consequences.
Posted by tennisballmilk on March 17, 2014 at 11:32 PM · Report this
I think you are missing the point here a little bit. Worker productivity isn't a problem. Worker compensation is a problem. The workers don't need to be more productive, they are already very productive, at least according to industry and the government. They just don't get paid very much. And if you think that working harder means that your boss will give you a raise cause "you've earned it", you have worked in a very different field than I have.
Posted by JonCracolici on March 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM · Report this
@155 On the contrary, you seem to be missing the point in its entirety, and frankly I think will continue to miss the point completely.

Productivity does matter and has always mattered. It is how we advance economically and the general level of well being and wealth is achieved.

Otherwise, under the economic theory you set forth, I suggest we'd still be plowing our fields with oxen and sowing the fields by hand.

The issue at hand is "productivity" vis a vis those entering the work force being paid the "minimum wage".

Ready ...wait for it:

Those entering the work force for the first time are not nearly as productive and thus are paid less.

The min. wage is NOT DESIGNED to be a "living wage", but a starting min wage for those entering the work force.

It is a very simple concept.

Further, extensive economic analysis, studies and reports indicate clearly a rate of 45% to 50% of the "avg hourly wage" is an economic equilibrium point.

Exceeding 50% of that the "avg. hourly wage" has adverse "economic effects" which have been laboriously set forth multiple times, for which your camp seems to want to ignore in its entirety.

Employers will be very reluctant to hire first time workers @ $15/hour, because, in the main, they have no established work experience, skills or track record.

Why would an employer take the risk? There is no reason or incentive to do so.

What an employer will do is:

1) Hire first those with proven skills and with greater "productivity". That pretty well says "good bye" to opportunities for those trying to enter the work force.

2) The employer will look to automation to replace workers...enter the automated tellers at banks, grocery stores and automated point of sale terminals being installed at fast food we speak.

3) Marginal lines of businesses for which a $15/hour labor rate is not economical will do the following:

--raise prices
--eliminate the line o business which is no longer economical or viable at the new $15/hour rate.

End Game-- "You Are Screwed"

--Jobs for those entering the market dry up

--Jobs that were available are eliminated as business substitute machines for "cost ineffective labor"

--Business segments close or relocate to areas where labor cost is economically feasible. Further job losses result.

--Prices increase to offset increased labor costs. Increase prices means less demand for goods and services and well I guess you can figure this one out:

"fewer workers if we aren't selling as much"

This is your new world and landscape of the $15/hour min wage.

A Final note:

If you work in a "field" where you don't get a raise as you build skills, experience and productivity, then "get into another field"...maybe one where perhaps, they use tractors and machines that sow the seeds.

Posted by mistral on March 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this

If all you have is accusing me of being a quitter, then you have nothing. I'll happily continue this debate once you've provided some evidence - any sort of evidence, really, that isn't a vague, Fox Newsy claim you've decided to call fact. Until then, it looks like you have a vintage rhetoric collection to explore.
Posted by Chareth Cutestory on March 18, 2014 at 6:14 PM · Report this
@157 I didn't accuse you of being a "quitter" I said you are a "quitter".

Type in the following on the WWW

Increases in the min wage adverse economic impact

Then hit "send"

Read some of the work by Dr. Milton Freedman, nobel prize award winning economist from Chicago.

Then, come back and lets have an informed discussion.

Thanks for your kind attention....If you come back with an informed mind, maybe you aren't a quitter after all.
Posted by mistral on March 19, 2014 at 10:09 AM · Report this
You know who's a quiet supporter of a $15 minimum wage? The city's corporate landlords.

The moment that every working stiff brings home $15/hr, they will feel entitled to boost rents still further than they have over the past two years. Why?

1) They know that moving is a bitch, and you already like where you live.
2) If they don't rent to you, they'll rent to another barista who will instantly fill their vacancy for 20% over what you're paying.

Instead of promoting policies that would be hugely inflationary and dry up demand within Seattle, how about supporting a progressive state income tax coupled with a huge slash of our regressive sales tax?

The minimum wage is linked to inflation in our area and is already at the top of the range. Is increasing it further the right policy? Or is the right policy taxing the shit out of the 1 percenters' million dollar incomes and capital gains to provide more money for transportation, education, housing services, you name it?

The 15now people have picked the wrong battle.
Posted by herrbrahms on March 19, 2014 at 12:43 PM · Report this

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