But the Seattle City Council has happier things to give their attention to.
Step 1: pull SPD by order of the council off any vice crimes that aren't meth manufacturing/dealing or human trafficking.

Step 2: mandate all that cash and man hours go to this purpose for one business quarter.

Step 3: dozens of managers pulling bullshit doing routine perp walks will put an end to this.
Awesome. Thanks for reporting on this.
Laws are a joke when there is no enforcement, but levying fines or even jail time against a couple managers and owners will make the rest of the managers and owners take interest.

Wage violations add up a lot faster than minor property crimes. Just about everyone I know has been stiffed by an employer for wages at one time or another. Hell, I've stiffed employees for wages. Don't tell.
Wage and hour violations are often the basis of successful civil suits, with treble damages under Washington's laws, i.e., what the employer stole times three, plus attorneys fees and costs. Get thee to a plaintiff-side employment lawyer.
You're mixing two very different issues.

Wage theft is illegal. Don't call the Labor board. Call the IRS. These employers are cheating on their taxes.

OTOH a $15/hr wage for fast-food workers is a naive fantasy. My husband doesn't quite make $15/hr, and he's been in the food industry most of his life as a graduate of a culinary institute and years of bakery experience. Why the fuck should unskilled fast food workers make more than him?

Let's rephrase your last question: why isn't your husband, with his degree and years of experience, making MORE than $15 an hour? It's not the fault of unskilled fast food workers, I can tell you that much. And you have heard the expression "a rising tide lifts all boats", haven't you? Perhaps if unskilled fast food workers DID make $15 an hour, it might just give your husband the leverage to ask for a raise, something I'm guessing he's seldom, if ever, done in his career.
Maybe they should be called interns. Then there'd be no need to pay them, right Stranger? Oh wait, I forgot that it's okay for hipsters to shamelessly exploit their labor. Carry on.
While I am pretty damn horrified by the wage theft I am way more skeptical of the $15 minimum wage. If you want to strike for it you have my support and more power to you but to have that be the legal mandate is a bridge too far and is the reason why I won't be voting for Sawant.
Sounds like incompetence from the incompetent elected.

Looking forward to an explanation of how raising the minimum wage is somehow going to create "leverage" for people already making $15 an hour to demand more. You're not thinking that employers will suddenly have more to spend on labor, are you? Or maybe the currently-$15-per-hour employee will say, "hah! Unless you pay me more, I will go get a dish-washing or prep-cook job at a competing restaurant! Or perhaps even a fast-food job!"

Mind you, I'm not opposed to minimum wages quite a bit higher than what we've got now, but I the idea that this would somehow magically push everyone else's pay higher is kinda delusional.
@7: actually he's gotten stellar performance reviews and comparatively large raises.

Do you understand anything at all about the food industry? The margins are tiny and new restaurants fail at a high rate. Unless you have a liquor license the life expectancy of a restaurant is just a few months. Even though the wages for workers are low, the managers and owners hardly make much more even though they have more responsibility piled on their shoulders.

To give you a sense of it, Trader Joes is one of the best grocery store chains in terms of how they treat their employees. The organizational structure is pretty egalitarian and everyone does every job - the managers (who aren't called managers) take their turn cleaning the bathrooms along with everyone else. The hourly workers have a program for paid time off, healthcare, and a 401 (k) plan. Even so, the longest tenured hourly TJ workers who've worked hard (for decades in some cases) and who consider food their career max out at about $20/hr. And you want to give $15/hr to someone at an unskilled fast food job just because they think they're entitled to it, with no real responsibilities except showing up sober and on time, and managing not to give the customers food poisoning?

It is a sad truth that the higher up in the management chain you get the less it's about people and the more it's about spreadsheets. Big fast food chains figured out a long time ago how to cope with the high turnover in fast food by giving workers as little opportunity for creativity as possible. Fast food work is just a half step above robot-produced food, and if they could remove people entirely from the back of the house they'd do it in a heartbeat. And you think you're going to get $15/hr for a job they could almost get a robot to do? That's very naive.

It's hard to live on any wage in Seattle except a very high one.

I'm surprised anyone is sticking around.
The fast-food workers who participated at this event did a great job, but Kshama Sawant embarrassed herself. Instead of addressing the Council - and facing the cameras taping the event as requested - she insisted on facing her supporters in the audience and giving a self-serving campaign speech. She may have been completely right on policy, but most people would never know it because they'd be turned off by her obnoxious lack of manners.
@12: If you have an office where people have different levels of skill and training, you have to pay people more to do the more complicated jobs. And yes, if you don't pay people more than minimum wage, people will swap to easier jobs that pay the same.
Ultimately, wages haven't grown with productivity, and income disparity is at an all time high. We can pay people $15/hour, they're earning more than that, so why SHOULDN'T we?
Funny, I thought this was pretty much what the poorly-done strikes a few weeks ago were about. Weren't they pretty universally mocked?

Wage theft needs to be stamped out entirely. Zero-tolerance policy that requires a massive fine and/or jail time for the management personnel found responsible. It's the worst example of class warfare, the epitome of the boot of industry on the neck of a helpless working class. This is exactly where we need the state to step in with force.
@15: what drives the need to pay people isn't the complexity of the task, but supply and demand. Cobol programming used to be in demand, so a lot of people did it. Wages were stable. Then the demand dropped off when new technologies came along. Cobol programmers became scarce. Now if you have some antique system you need a Cobol programmer to support (probably for a short time) you'll probably pay a premium again simply because there aren't many of them left. Complexity doesn't enter into it.
It's an interesting conumdrum: are we paying $15 per hour for working conditions (fast food is hazardous) or have we decided to abandon the cherished belief that the "minimum wage job" is a "stepping stone" to a better job ahead.

Of course, I'm not sure how you staff Burger King on $15 per hour, how much more the food would cost, and...who (especially those who fought for the wages but don't eat fast food) won't be there to keep these folks in jobs.
The Stranger is a big labor advocate, unless that labor happens to work at the Stranger.
I just figured out why the Stranger's writers support a $15/hr minimum wage. They'll get a raise! Ha ha ha ha!
It's an interesting conumdrum: are we paying $15 per hour for working conditions (fast food is hazardous) or have we decided to abandon the cherished belief that the "minimum wage job" is a "stepping stone" to a better job ahead.

Of course, I'm not sure how you staff Burger King on $15 per hour, how much more the food would cost, and...who (especially those who fought for the wages but don't eat fast food) won't be there to keep these folks in jobs.

Well, their interns would. If they paid their interns.

But I'm guessing that 70% of the staff is over 35 year old, has been working there for at least 7 years, and pulls down something noticeably north of 30k a year.
$30K a year? Shit, I made $35K a year (in today's money) in my first job out of college almost 35 years ago. Plus full benefits w/no copays, unlimited sick time, and two weeks vacation after a complete year. Hell, even $15 an hour is $31,200. After five years, I was making $105,000 in today's money.

If the Stranger dpesn't pay its interns and pays experienced staff "noticeably north of $30K" (what's that -- $40K??), then no wonder these dregs are always promoting bicycles. They're too poor to buy a car, the poor things.

Wouldn't you love it if the non-union, worker-exploiting Stranger were somehow compelled to publish the compensation of everyone there? How much ya wanna bet that Goldy's pulling down $175K plus a piece of the action and Cienna Madrid and Chucky Mudede make $35K a year? God only knows about Savage!

Goldy's a greenhorn, there's no way he's vested (haha) yet. Cienna and Mudede both have seniority. Mudede makes more than Cienna, though, partly because he's male, but much more because it would be effectively impossibly for The Stranger to quietly replace their only black-and-out-of-the-closet-about-it writer.
Hope the city gets them their back pay and then some, as well as punish the employers who are exploiting them.

Durocher's account of having to walk so far after hours is heartbreaking and infuriating.
The practice of exploiting unpaid interns is wage theft.
I do sympathize with ff workers - and treat them well when I can. I wish they could accept tips! On the other hand, the 15 dollar figure is unrealistic. Preschool teachers (like my wife) don't earn that much.
@26, the unpaid interns at The Stranger do O.K. Plus the current one is a complete tool.
@5 is correct. raises the question, why haven't these folks called a lawyer and sued?

well, the lawyer would investigate their claims prior to suing, likely. and may find that....ahem.....there's a defense, or their claims know.....problematic.

if they're okay, should be no problem and it would be more efficient to focus legislative efforts on making civil suits a better remedy than always expecting the government to have enough prosecutors to enforce all laws -- we have 20% of drivers without insurance, about 40% of all cars speeding at any given moment, and there is rampant drug dealing all over some parts of seattle, we're only at about 5% of overall law enforcement I'd say.

if you want pete holmes to prosecute mcdonald's you're going to have to add to his budget and staff...the investigations are somewhat can't just take some employee's word for it all, you have to subpoena the records, figure them out, interview, depose, build a case then what normally happens when we have govt. prosecution is they just go after the low hanging fruit and let them cop pleas. we had DOJ find 20% excessive force and NOT ONE victim was told that DOJ discovered the spd cops broke the law. the city govt. is not doing all that well on law enforcement right now when it can't even police the cops.
1) In 2008, alot of would-be retirees saw their pensions wiped out, as their 401Ks with money in Lehman Brothers and such disappeared. The folks would gladly have retired, but now cannot.

2) These guys have 20+ years of experience and some pretty fancy degrees. Not to mention, in a world where it's all who you know, they know everybody,. since they've been working alongside everybody for decades now.

3) The young folks fresh out of school learn there are no open job slots, because the jobs that exist are clogged with the aforementioned old people.

4) The young folks have zero experience and a bachelor's degree. Granted, their degree is fresh, so they know more about the cutting edge stuff than any of the old folks. But when every job announcement they read says "10+ years of experience required, or 7 1/2 is you've got a PhD", the reality sets in. They can't compete, they can't get a toehold. And it's not because they did anything wrong-they busted their asses in school just like we told them to. But how the fuck is a 22 year old fresh out of college going to compete with a guy with 20 years experience?

5) The young folks don't know anybody except their professors. They're new, and it takes a while to get to know the right people. Sometimes, the right people aren't interested in getting to know you, since they'd rather hobnob with the people who've got power right now, who can increase their own power.

6) So, they take unpaid internships. This is not as bad as slavery, but it is unpaid labor, which by definition is unfree labor. When it hits you that after working your ass off to maintain a 3.8 GPA and taking all the difficult challenging courses you could, you're still living at home with Mom and Dad at age 25, and this job isn't going to get you out of that situation anytime this decade, well, why bother trying?

7) The employers know this situation is bad for everybody. They can't get quality labor, because quality labor isn't free. They know the interns are getting screwed and aren't benefiting from this at all. They know the employed folks would rather retire and spend some time on the grandkids, but they can't because there's nothing left to retire on. The old folks know they're screwing the young, but what are they to do, spend their Golden Years eating cat food?

So, please be a bit cautious when slamming unpaid interns. This problem is systemic. And because the system isn't being run by anybody (sorry, conspiracy theorists) nobody can fix the problem. The free market is anarchic like that. When the whole world is in a good mood, it works great, but when a wave of misery begins to permeate the system, ti all goes down like George Michael in a park restroom.
1. Every single job does not deserve a "living wage." You do not deserve a living wage because you suck dick at life so hard that you're doing a job that teenagers pick up for the summer. You're doing extremely low-value work.

2. These signs and people focusing around Kshama Sawant are really creepy. Movements with ideological figureheads are always fucking creepy.
What is up with that picture? "Okay guys, look sad about the plight of the worker, on three..."
@28 whoever the current unpaid intern is - they are always called complete tools by SLOG readers - which is very funny, since they're ... unpaid ... and interns learning how to do stuff.

I find the unpaid interns are usually really nice and doing their best.
@14 what a ridiculous statement. Why wouldn't Kshama Sawant face and address the audience? She's not there to convince the council, she's there to mobilize people into the struggle for a $15/hr minimum wage. The council is only having this session because of the determined struggle of these and other workers. If a municipal minimum wage gets passed it will be because of this movement and campaigns like Sawant's, not because the business-friendly council suddenly finds Jesus.
The argument that fast food workers don't do $15 worth of work in an hour is baseless and straight up false. Not even considering the fact that they turn out dozens of $3-$5 burgers per every half hour, and even more at lunch time, the variation in state and municipal minimum wages throughout the country without serious fluctuation in prices from store to store is proof enough that the price of the commodity (burgers, fries, hot dogs, burritos, etc.) is not predominantly dependent on the wages being paid. The prices and the workers' wages are more dependent on how much profit the CEOs, regional, and district managers are willing to give up to pay their employees. Ask any fast food worker if their team on the clock has more in the till at the end of a shift than all of them made in that shift and you'll end up with a difference that vastly surpasses $15/hr worth of work that isn't being paid to them. Welcome to capitalism.
@33 I've been following Slog for several years, and this is the first intern I've known of to berate liberals in his newsbriefs (which, independent of its validity, seems stupid for the Stranger) or write a long monologue about how refusing to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle is Sticking It To The Man.
@14 - I'm not sure what you mean by Kshama "embarrassed herself." Addressing the audience is precisely the right thing to do if you are appealing to them to continue fighting for a living wage. Why would she address the city council who make nearly $120,000 a year?

You can call the speech self-serving, but that doesn't automatically mean you are correct. Her campaign is boldly calling for $15/hr min. wage. Her last campaign also called for $15/hr minimum wage. I don't see how it is self-serving to tirelessly advocate for the needs of the vast majority of people living in this increasingly unaffordable city.

As someone who is facing a huge increase in my rent because "the market" deems it so, I am thrilled that someone is willing to sacrifice their free time to boldly campaign for rent control. As a climate scientist who is concerned about the coal export terminals proposed up and down our coasts, I am more than thrilled that Kshama's campaign is highlighting the need for a fighting strategy, not some toothless resolution against it.

Her campaign is not self-serving. On the contrary, it is completely self-sacrificing and I thank her for her tireless effort.
My question about this whole thing. Where was Richard Conlin during this testimony?

He better step up his game if he wants to keep in the seat this fall.
@37: It's generally considered good form to disclose that you work for someone's campaign when making a public statement about them.
I think if you don't want the minimum wage raised you've never had to struggle to survive at any point in your life. it's easy to hate on fast food workers with mommy and daddy paying for everything. plus you have no empirical data to back up your claims. in fact all the economic data supports a minimun wage higher than 15 an hour.
@39 Why does that matter? Does that negate what I said? I am facing an increase in my rent (which will likely force me out of my home) and I am a climate scientist worried about the coal export terminals. I work on this campaign because I see it has the potential to build support for the proposed solutions to both of these important problems.

I'm not working on the campaign to serve my own career or Kshama's. We (myself and the dozens of volunteers and interns who are tirelessly working on the campaign, along with Kshama) are sacrificing our personal time to build a grassroots challenge to the corporate rule of this city.
I'll also add that I don't "work for someone else's campaign." This isn't some job I have. This is our campaign. It can be your campaign, too, if you want to help build it.

You're talking apples-to-oranges: unlike Full Service Restaurants (FSRs), Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are HIGHLY PROFITABLE, even factoring in franchise fees. The average McDonald's for example grosses around $2.5 mm per year; in 2011 McDonald's net profit was $5.5 B (as in Billion) on total revenue of around $27 B - a return of more than 20%! That's a margin ANY company would love to achieve! In addition, Franchise Managers (equivalent to a regional manager) at McD's average income is about $150,000 per unit per year - show me an hourly worker that makes even a significant fraction of that amount, then get back to me about how fast food franchise owners & managers are "barely making it".

Additionally, the top five QSR conglomerates (e.g. Yum! Brands, which owns Subway, Taco Bell, KFC & Pizza Hut, among others), have seen growth of roughly 10% per year since 2009 - one of the few major sectors of the economy that actually experienced increased revenue during the recession!

While much of this profit can be attributed to efficiencies-of-scale, an awful lot of it comes on the backs of workers, many of whom barely make above Minimum Wage, and who generally don't receive health or retirement benefits of any kind. And despite the image of fast food workers as young, fresh-out-of-school kids just starting out in the workforce, the average age of a FF worker today is 28 years old; in today's employment environment, it's not at all uncommon to see workers over 50, and many with college degrees, who have been shut out of decent-paying jobs by Globalization, and who are barely hanging on at $7 or $8 an hour, assuming they're even working a full 40-hour week, which isn't the norm. So, realistically, paying these workers $15 an hour isn't going to kill most franchises - shareholders will no doubt scream bloody murder, but considering their equity accounts for anywhere from 25 to 38 percent of total profit distributions, it's not like they'd be looking at checking into the poor house anytime soon themselves.
#41, considering both your candidate's prospects and your imminent financial denouement, might I suggest resigning from the campaign and finding a part-time paying job instead? I'm sure Kaboom, or Kashimi, or Shamwow, or whatever she's called, would understand.
@41, I guess no right-wing asshole feels his day is complete without a borderline racist comment. Given your comments on the Trayvon Martin article, I guess this last post isn't too surprising. So why are you spending so much of your valuable time hanging out on The Stranger Slog, since you so clearly hate it? Are you a paid troll or do you just have an understanding employer who doesn't mind that you post vile crap here all day rather than working?
@44, I guess no right-wing asshole feels his day is complete without a borderline racist comment. Given your comments on the Trayvon Martin article, I guess this last post isn't too surprising. So why are you spending so much of your valuable time hanging out on The Stranger Slog, since you so clearly hate it? Are you a paid troll or do you just have an understanding employer who doesn't mind that you post vile crap here all day rather than working?
I'm not a racist. I also have a difficult name that's butchered most of the time on the first go-'round. But I also have a sense of humor about it, which the bedwetters here would never understand. As for Trayvon Martin, I have no sympathy for him. He attacked someone and battered his head against concrete. He got what he deserved, and I'd say exactly the same thing if the racial makeup was the reverse.
And I'm also not a right winger. My politics are middle of the road, which makes me a commie in the eyes of the wingnuts and a wingnut in the eyes of the Stranger and its zoo. As for why I comment here: For the hell of it, and because I think you fuckheads ought to know what a lot of people really think of you.

To head something off at the pass:…
@41: Why does it matter? Because it's deceptive to act as if you're an uninvolved third-party. Policy issues aside, participants in a conversation deserve to know about conflicts of interest.

Not to sound like a dick, but c'mon. Common decency.
This is much more commonplace than a lot of Seattelites think. Someone close to me was forced to work every day off the clock at Subway. This needs to stop, and Kshama has the power to do so, vote for her!!!!!!!
@50, the person close to you should have documented it and then gone to the state wage & hour people.
@49 You see, this is the problem today. People like you would much rather attack a fucking ACTIVIST working tirelessly on a grassroots campaign you would benefit from if Sawant were elected, instead of attacking the capitalist assholes like Richard Conlin that are ruining the lives of everyday working class people. Grow the fuck up you pathetic prick.

If the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour, ALL OTHER WAGES WOULD GO UP PROPORTIONATELY. Everyone will benefit.

Kshama Sawant wrote an awesome article detailing how raising the minimum wage can be achieved, and yes it is totally do-able:…

END THE CORPORATE CONTROL OF CITY COUNCIL. Raise the minimum wage and hold corporations accountable for employee mistreatment. End police brutality. Invest in green jobs not coal trains. Fight poverty and bigotry. MAKE SEATTLE AFFORDABLE FOR ALL. Join the struggle, VOTE KSHAMA SAWANT.

Poor Camilla! Do my laundry, bitch!
I'm sorry but $15/hr isn't near enough compensation for having to deal with rude customers and having to stand on your feet for 12 hours a day....then again there's just not enough money in the world that one could pay me to take crap off of rude people without being allowed to introduce their face to the counter. People should really be eating at home anyway.
I'd like to propose 2 things for you folks to think about here.

First, what are our low-skill jobs today? Back when my great-grandparents put their asses on a boat and sailed over here with my infant grandparents in tow, all the way through my mom, there were decent, middle-class jobs for adults who weren't well-educated but WERE willing to work hard, on which they could support a family and build a life. Mining, manufacturing, and even some higher-level service jobs. FERCRISSAKES, BOTH my grandmother and grandfather only went to school through the 8th grade. My grandmother was able to support herself for a few years (yes, in a junky "rooming house," but still) working in a cafe, and my grandfather was able to first help his family and then support his own as a manual laborer and then manufacturing worker. In fact, because they were frugal (but still had a nice house, decent car, decent stuff, and the other trappings of a middle-class life), my mom and us grandkids got a decent inheritance. Think about that for a uneducated, low-skill worker able to support a family and pass something onto future generations. But back to the point...what does someone with EVEN MORE education and skills do today? Well, they work in retail or basic construction, and they make minimum wage. Retail services ARE the new factories. They're the new textile mills, steel mills, mines. Gee thanks for the big fuck you to the people who WOULD have been middle class two generations ago... Seriously, think about it for a can't even get a job a FUCKING MCDONALDS unless you are enrolled in high school or have a diploma or GED.

Second, if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be hovering around $20/hour right now. Now, now, I understand your astonishment at a minimum-wage worker making this much, because all of "us" have been robbed, too. It's not that "them" making so much is criminal, it's that "us" making so little is a felony. There's that video, that shows the distribution of income over time. Them are facts, folks. We're ALL getting screwed unless we're 1%ers. Hell, I'm something like an 10%er, and things aren't all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.

It's not that minimum-wage workers deserve higher wages ALONE. We *all* deserve a bigger piece of the pie. The discrepancy between what my employer charges for my time and what I get out of that is criminal, and I am an educated, experienced professional. Don't get me wrong...I like my job, and I'm not being exploited on the basest of terms. Yet, adjusting for inflation and cost of living differences, I make only 60% of what my similarly-educated father did at a similar point in his career. He's expressed shock at how little I work for...
@49 You are awesome, I totally agree. I support at least $15/hour even though it is not nearly enough to live in Seattle. And yes, mandating such a min. wage does help all others make more than that.

Vote Sawant!
My partner is in food service, and yes, 15 dollars an hour is impossible right now-- but it shouldn't be. For these workers or for him. He works hard, his body takes a huge toll, and he makes vastly less than the value he adds to the establishment.

Food workers, whether in fast food or full service deal with:

1) Unreliable hours: too many or too few. No idea till the day of sometimes. And often, not paid a cent over 40 hours, even if they work 60, 70 or more. Wage theft is the NORM not the exception.

2) Unreliable wages: checks may not cash, you may not get them on time, etc. Less of an issue for big corporate fast food, but always an issue.

3) No benefits or sick time: They're working sick, sometimes very sick. Why? Because otherwise they'll get fired. Seriously. you call in day of, and you're not throwing up? Fired.

4) They can be disciplined for using their worker's comp "too much" or "at all" so they hide injuries or neglect getting them looked at.

Is this the world we really want to live in? These are the jobs we want to leave for our children? I get to sit at a desk all day to work, but I have no less education or smarts or drive than my partner. I just lucked out in the job lottery in 2008, while he didn't. Is that how we want the future decided?

I fully support Sawant because I want a life where we all can eat, sleep and be warm without worry.

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