The worrying thing for me is that a $15 minimum wage is going to put many, many workers in non-profits out of work. Non-profits are dependent on donations and grants, and can't just raise their prices. If we were able to raise donations and grants beyond what they are now, we would have already done so, since every non-profit is eager to serve more clients if they can. Instead, we will serve many fewer, and many non-profits may go out of business altogether, since those grants are stipulated on a certain level of service which will no longer be possible.

The non-profit issue is a serious thorn in the side of the minimum wage argument that I don't hear proponents talk about. They need to start.
@1 There will be exemptions for small businesses. There could be exemptions for non-profits too. That is certainly an issue to bring to the table.
Yes, absolutely. Very good point.

It is also important to consider the role that labor saving devices play in all of this. As technology improves, companies can produce more with the same number of people. If productivity can not increase to match the savings (which can happen for various reasons) then they get by with fewer people. This pushes down employment.

The obvious answer is to have workers work fewer hours. We've done that before (when we instituted the forty hour work week). But that only makes sense if you make a decent wage. If you don't, then you are forced to take two jobs, and that doesn't do anyone any good (companies are less productive and workers are less happy).

Companies, of course, respond to markets. If you believe that labor will be cheap for the next twenty years, then you are unlikely to invest in labor saving technology. This reduces the number of people who work in higher paying jobs (like software). All of this is why most economists believe that a good minimum wage is good for for the overall economy. Some argue about what the minimum wage should be, although most would suggest that the minimum for the country is way too low.
@3 Unfortunately, productivity gains are divorced from wages. Productivity has gone up a lot in the last 30 years while incomes have stagnated. It would be wonderful if people were paid enough to work less when productivity increased but that isn't how employers do things.
Many non profits already have lots of exemptions.

If anything, too many.
@5 is correct.
Goldy, honest question: Does The Stranger provide a living wage of at least $15 (or even $12) an hour, health care benefits and paid days off to all of its employees and only contract with printers and other service providers who do the same?

If not, why not?
@6, you never know what you're talking about, but here you really, really do not know what the fuck you're talking about.
Look at the salaries of "non-profit" CEOs. Fucking mobsters.
I would like to see minimum wage increases paid for by a tax on the 1%'s wealth. Never going to happen in 'merka, I know.
@8 Why is that pertinent to what I write on the issue? And why would you think that I know what my colleagues make? If you're really interested, instead of just trying to make some stupid straw man rhetorical point, ask Tim Keck, he's the publisher.

All I know is that I make better than $15/hour, and have benefits that include paid time off.
@9 read the state, county, or city budget sometime - you might learn things
Could people just stop having so many fucking children?
every young artist type I know [lots of them] works part-timish jobs for close to 15 bucks an hr; just enough to get by. If the new bottom is 15 and the cost of living changes accordingly won't these artsy bums be forced to go full-time [and probably start settling down and shitting out dependents like this proposal encourages?]
@12 - Yes, I have paid many thousands in income tax over my working life and know how it's used (and wasted). I also know that the very wealthy pay the majority of income tax as well.

The question is - at what point do the scales tip and desperate people turn to desperate measures because they have no other options?

If I were a member of the 1% I'd be worrying about the metaphorical (or literal) return of the guillotine and would be trying to come up with a fair way to increase everyone's income to save my own neck.
Goldy won't do your asking (because what journalists dare investigate their own organization - notice the large gender gap in The Stranger contributors, you think there's a pay gap there ?).

Also, he's probably still a little hurt from when Keck told him Fuck You, Goldy over The Stranger lobbying to rescind the newspaper 40% B&O tax break that both the Seattle Times and The Stranger benefit from.…
@14, you are an insufferable dickhead. I know what's in the budgets, asshole. I know the guys who put them together. I talk to anti-poverty lobbyists every day. Frank Chopp used to be my boss. I also know what regulations and conditions non-profits operate under, because I've been working under them for close to twenty years. I work on the fucking audits every year. You are completely and utterly full of shit, and if you didn't have such a defective personality you'd be too embarrassed to keep posting here.

@10, there are abuses but the vast majority of non-profits, in Seattle and elsewhere, do not pay "mobster" salaries to their EDs or CEOs. Not even close. Tell me what the bosses of Food Lifeline, Farestart, Northwest Harvest, The Seattle Food Committee, Union Gospel Mission, DESC, Plymouth, Pioneer, Dress for Success, The Innocence Project, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, CCS, 826 Seattle, Atlantic Street Center, Childhaven, Youthcare, Tilth, Treehouse, Solid Ground, Hopelink and a thousand others make. It's less than they'd make in comparable private-enterprise jobs every time. In addition, all of these organizations have boards comprised of really high-paid people from those private enterprises who work for free for their chosen non-profits. Don't do us the disservice of writing us off as some kind of fat cats.
@18 Really? Could you be any more humorless?
Goldy @13 - As someone who supports the fight for a higher minimum wage and understands that broad public support in critical, I fear the damage done when one of the fight's loudest proponents is so easily depicted as a hypocritical douche.

I know that you are, and will forever be, a hero here on Slog. But in the broader battle (you know, in the real world), I fear that you are quickly becoming more of a hindrance than a help.
@2 All the talk about small business and non profit exemptions kinda deflate the whole idea.

If 12/15 is good for everyone because they are poor, how is it not good for workers at small business and non profit?

Everyone realizes that the poster boys for this during the strike phase, fast food are typically franchises and would fall under the small business classification?

The people hurt most by this will be lower and middle class who are on the edge, as their fixed costs shoot up out of nowhere, like daycare.
Goldy, you should stay away from Economic analysis until you study it a bit. You write and twist anything you can to support your point, but ignore everything you can that disagrees with your extremist views.

As for exemptions in the $15Now proposal, there are NONE. You support the movement and then try to sidestep criticism by saying there will be exemptions, or tip credits, or whatever, when in fact $15Now and Sawant have been clear that they won't compromise.

On to non-profits. Not only will they be shattered by $15 MW because they can't raise the funds, there is another issue...when it comes to social services, especially those funded by King County and WA State, they will get no more money from those budgets and so will be forced to provide less services. This means less money for King County Emergency Shelter, less money for housing for people coming off the streets, etc, etc. The County at least is very nervous about this.

As for the studies you point to. First, they are talking about the effects of SMALL increases in the minimum wage. Like 10%. Not 62% as it would be with $15. The negative effects of that would be huge.

Also, the article you point to says: " you shouldn’t take the effects of small changes to see what would happen if we, say, increased the minimum wage 500 percent, or to levels that don’t actually exist right now" [LEVELS LIKE $15]

The article directly calls out that the evidence it points to shouldn't be used as justification for $15.

The intellectual dishonesty of The Stranger continues. Chapter 10,000.
PS - most people in poverty, like the huge majority, in Seattle, don't have jobs. So, not only would they not be helped here, but as prices rise 20%, they will effectively have a lot less money and be hurt by this sudden, massive increase.

If raising the minimum wage lifts workers out of poverty, then in 1998 when Washington raised its minimum wage, we would have expected to see the poverty rate here fall, but instead it rose.

It’s pertinent to what you write on the issue because The Stranger, and you as its agent, actively evangelizes for a “livable minimum wage.” As an editorial and news publication, The Stranger’s credibility matters, and nothing kills credibility faster than not practicing what you preach.

I don’t think you know what your colleagues make, and I did not ask what your colleagues make. Knowing what The Stranger’s base-line pay and contracting policies are is not the same as knowing what your colleagues make.

I’d ask Tim, but I don’t have your access to him, I’m not a reporter and I’m not actively covering and editorializing on this story in Seattle’s only new paper. That’s your job.
@25 - You're seriously asking if the Stranger is hypocritical on this topic? Yes, yes they are. The owners of the Stranger are 1% ers who have made their money from poverty wages, and sex ads (prostitution). And they lobby for tax breaks that apply only to them. Goldy gets paid because he writes shit that upsets people (because it is shit), and that drives views, which drives ad sales.

What you won't see The Stranger doing is writing any serious analysis of any topic, as that takes time, educated writers, and doesn't cause the sort of drama that sells ads.
David? Is that you?

Your unspoken assumption is that philanthropy in America is driven by the 1%.

The rich give themselves good press so we all have to take notice when one of them cracks open their bank accounts and shares a small sliver of their vast wealth, but the truth is it is the middle class, and even the poor who shouldn't be able to afford it at all -- that drives giving. The rich are the least generous people on the economic scale.

That means that if you pay the poor more, drive consumption, buoy middle class wages and stimulate the economy, non-profits will see more income. No different than Seattle small businesses will see more income if you boost wages, and can therefore afford to pay better.

This non-profit red herring is "Joe the Plumber" in different guise. It's using a supposed little guy to sell a policy that serves the 1%.

And, of course, pulling people out of poverty lessens demand for services for the poor, so non-profits have less need. And a larger middle class means more demand for all that culture shit, ballet and opera and poetry slams and that noise. Workers with the free time and disposable income for culture means more donations to cultural non-profits.
I guess I'm confused how progressives can continue to insist that income inequality and the plight of the 'working poor' is the most significant issue of the day, and yet find a host of end-around arguments that point the need to keep their wages down.

Fnarf: You don't find it the least bit ironic that 'non-profits' depend on poverty wages to provide their services?
@21 Nobody in Washington State messages like I do; I could make two to three times what I make at The Stranger, whoring myself out to the highest bidder. Easy. But I don't.

I took this—the worst paying job of my adult life—because it gave me a larger platform than I ever had at my old blog, with which to effect change. I've lost more battles than I've won, but I've helped win some big ones. And I've certainly helped move my city and my state toward a fairer, more livable minimum wage. And I've sacrificed my own financial interests in the process.

So no, I don't worry about my opponents attempting to depict me as a hypocritical douche. I know who I am and what I do, and that is good enough for me. As for my words, I'm confident to let them stand on their own.

So thanks for the concern, but no thanks.
Can we call this theory 'Trickle Down II' ?
@28, you're high on something, aren't you? Joe the Plumber? The 1%? You don't know anything about how non-profits operate. The fact is that most non-profits survive on government grants, not some top-hatted bogeymen or the contributions of the poor. You're as ignorant as Will in Seattle in your way.

Your suggestion hey, no prob, MAN, they'll just get more money from donations, MAN, is just ridiculous. The fact is, if you ask in the non-profit world they'll tell you the same thing -- and here I am, in the non-profit world, and I'm telling you right here. What makes you think you know anything about it? You don't know shit.

@30, you think? You think non-profits don't know this? You got a better way? Let's hear it then. Come on, how are we going to pay more to case managers? I've been working on the topic of non-profit wages for fifteen years, so I'm pretty sure I've heard 'em all, but let 'er rip.

Wishes don't make dreams come true just because you want them to.

It's interesting that you think 'non-profits' belongs in scare quotes, though.

I am not an opponent of the raised minimum wage. I am pointing out a very real problem that it would create, and asking people to stop and think about it for a minute. Apparently that's too much to ask for. This isn't just me barking out of my rear end; it's a very hot topic in every meeting room in the non-profit world right now.

Well since Washington already has the highest minimum wage in the nation, you are no doubt prepared to supply us with evidence that non-profits are healthier in states that only have the Federal minimum wage. And countries with no minimum wage must have much better funded non-profits. Is that so?

"Joe the Plumber" was a fictions little guy who they pretended would be the victim of tax increases on the very, very rich. You're doing the same thing: a minimum wage helps everybody at the bottom, and is a tiny pinprick to the rich. But you're giving us this "little guy" -- the poor non-profit -- who you claim would be harmed. Same canard. Same supply-side economics.

We live in a consumer economy. More money spent means more donations.

Now. Those examples please. If you're right, Washington needs to lower or eliminate our state minimum wage and so give all our non-profits a helping hand. Do you have evidence of that?

It's the same reasoning that shows us that states with more guns have more suicide. We have simple side-by-side state-by-state data to tell us what works.
Point of clarification please : Non-profits and small businesses should be exempted because their employees do not deserve to earn a livable minimum wage?
And when workers don't need two jobs to get by, they don't just use their new leisure time buying Maclemore* tickets so Dave Meinert can better afford a new couch for one of his manses. They spend some of that free time volunteering.

More volunteers means less need for non-profits to have paid workers.

* That's a hot band you kids like, right? Pretty close?
@35 What I would do if were Benevolent Dictator is different than what I would do if I were a democratically elected office holder. Whatever the virtues (or not) of exemptions, the minimum wage ordinance that passes the council has to be one that can survive a referendum funded by millions of dollars from giant corporations attempting to scare voters into thinking it would kill mom & pop businesses.

The perfect is the enemy of the good, and all that.
I think I'll call bullshit on that... If the backlash from big business is the problem, exempt them instead. Problem solved. I'd go so far as to guess that if you looked at the number of wage earners that would be affected by an across the board state wide MW increase, more of them work for small businesses and non-profits than work for big business. In any event, it would only make sense to exempt the smaller group of wage earners if exemptions are a political necessity. Shouldn't the goal be to get the MW increase to the greatest number of wage earners possible?

The point is that voters are sympathetic to small businesses and non-profits, so big business would use them as a wedge to peel off support.

You don't exempt fucking big business. What would be the point? Might as well not have a minimum wage. Which is what you'd do if you think Washington would be better off if our economy looked more like Alabama or Kentucky or Wyoming.

I don't favor exemptions -- at least not until there's an offer on the table -- but even I can see how clueless you are on this.

You're trying to talk sense to someone the Idiot Anti Defamation League would be embarrassed to call an idiot for fear of making them look bad.

This is a man devoid of even the most basic comprehension of human and economic realities. This is a man so blinded by partisan rage that he'd rather the west side of the state go into recession when Boeing left than that the union of lazy bastards working there make reasonable concessions.

You might as well try putting put a fire with lighter fluid as expect sentience from Goldstein.
@34, it's impossible to argue with a flat-earther.

Eliminating the minimum wage isn't a policy proposal. Increasing it is. So let's talk about that. I'm talking about the real world, not some fantasy of yours where you twiddle the knobs and different result comes out. I'm putting this in as clear a way as possible: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. I DO.

Donations from individuals are a very small percentage of the income of most of the non-profits I mentioned. Social services in our society are provided on very tight budgets provided mostly from government grants. I can walk you through the realities of non-profit finance if you want, but I can tell that you wouldn't be able to grasp it, or more likely wouldn't be interested in trying, based on your unrealistic assumptions, rotten analogies and straw men arguments.

If anyone resembles Joe the Plumber here, it's you. You're the one sneering at the non-profits who do the heavy lifting in social services, calling us "mobsters" and suggesting that we should just be happy with some volunteers. You're the one suggesting that non-profits aren't valuable anyways -- let the free market decide what happens to those homeless assholes living in their cars, right? That's what you sound like.

@36, you don't do case management with volunteers. If the agency where I work had a hundred new volunteers show up this afternoon, it would help us do our jobs NOT AT ALL, because they don't know how to do the job. And they are JOBS, not kids sweeping up in the food bank.

But way to confirm that you have no freaking idea what non-profits do and no idea how social services are actually provided. Services like this:…

Buildings like that don't get built from pennies dropped in cans outside grocery stores. And if the total payroll goes up by X%, it doesn't mean the building is X% smaller, it means the building doesn't get built at all. The very real consequence of this increase, if some way to mitigate it is not found, is agencies shutting their doors.

"More money spent means more donations." is just...stupid doesn't seem adequate to cover it. It's more than stupid; it's flip and dismissive too. It's the kind of thing that libertarians say. Turn the knob, more comes out over here. The world is a clockwork, right?

The proof I need is in the non-profits themselves. I know that you think they're all "mobsters" doing bullshit floor-sweeping jobs that volunteers could do better, but you're wrong. And every agency in the county is looking very hard at $15 an hour and sweating hard, because we KNOW where the budget's coming from: it's coming from nowhere.

@35, of course they deserve to earn a living wage, asshole. The question is, where's the money going to come from? Non-profits can't just jack up the prices by ten cents, because they're not selling anything. The agency where I work has a long history of fighting for higher wages, going back to the home care aides who continually got (and still get) shafted by the state legislature. But we can't operate at a loss.

What you're saying is, non-profits in states with a lower minimum wage are not better off than in Washington? Because if you point to a simple evidence that Washington's higher minimum squeezed non-profits, you'd have some pretty compelling evidence.

Or you could take historical evidence. In the past, when the Federal minimum, or one of the states minimums, had a significant increase, was that followed by a decline in non-profit viability?

You do a lot of name-calling, Fnarf. I made clear I'd be happy to change my mind if given contrary evidence, and I even outlined for you what that evidence would look like. Your response was to just get angry and act like how angry you get is a measure of how right you are. Could just be proof you didn't have a good breakfast.

Not very convincing.
Well, duh.
So, to answer my own question…

According to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages ( ) In the first quarter of 2012 an average of 1,018,192 Washington wage earners worked for companies who paid their employees, on average, less than $15 per hour. Here’s how those wage earners break out across company sizes:

Company Size / Employees
Fewer than 5 employees / 219,056 (22%)
5 to 9 employees / 132,147 (13%)
10 to 19 employees / 162,616 (16%)
20 to 49 employees / 236,393 (23%)
50 to 99 employees / 162,246 (16%)
100 to 249 employees / 70,177 (7%)
250 to 499 employees / 35,557 (3%)

Now, I’m not sure just how you define “small businesses” and “big businesses”, but, you’ll notice that 74% of the wage earners working for companies that pay their employees less than $15/hr on average work for companies that have less than 50 employees and only 10% work for companies that employ more than 100 people.

Also notable: There are no companies in Washington with more than 500 employees that pay their workers less than $15/hr on average.
Shit... that data is for the first quarter of 2013, not 2012.
@44 I define a small business as less than 10 non-managerial employees, similar to the SeaTac initiative.

Do case managers really make that much less than $15/hour? I find that pretty appalling in itself.
@24- "most people in poverty, like the huge majority, in Seattle, don't have jobs."

Citation needed.
Then, by your definition, at least 35% of the workers employed by businesses that pay their employees less than $15 an hour would get no relief. And that’s the lowest possible number. Is 35%+ an acceptable price for political expediency?

Exactly. The non-profits are paying minimum wage to their least skilled workers. More volunteers means less need to pay them. And more money in the budget for case workers.

The logic is sound.

The next step is to compare state by state. The killer example would be states with a higher minimum wage, but an exemption for non-profits, versus those with a high wage but no exemption. How much better off are the non-profits? If they are better off.

You have to stop a minute and ask why we're making counter-offers to ourselves here. Classic Democrat move: first demand a $15 minimum wage, and then before they've even heard what the opposition's counter-offer is, your typical Seattle go-along-to-get-along Democrat starts talking their own offer down.

This is why we need socialists. Somebody with the balls to negotiate and get the best possible deal, not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory before the fight has even begun. Fucking Democrats.
@49 The greatest good for the greatest number. I'd rather get 65 percent of minimum wage workers to $15 than none at all. That would also put upward pressure on other low wage jobs.

Again, if I were appointed Benevolent Dictator, I might do things differently. But democracy is messy.
That’s an awful pragmatic position for Slog...
(You risk confusing your readers).
@52 Nope makes perfect sense to me.

Fnarf yep your right non-profits will take a hit, some will ultimately close their doors and or merge. On the other hand employees currently working for non-profits that make less then $15 hr have skills and will get help finding another job. Thats part of what you do right? Help people get jobs.

As for funding, you've got the realities of that nailed. Now look at it this way, passing progressive policies that directly and immediately impact people might just get people to vote for progressive candidates. In turn those elected officials might start funding the programs your talking about at their former levels.

@50 Damn straight Skippy hit that negotiating table with a hard $15 hr. Just remember not every hill is worth dying on, most its just a matter of how much blood is spilled.

Goldy's number sounds like it is in the right ballpark of acceptable losses.
Here's an idea, maybe Sawant/the $15Now Movement should revive FDRs Blue Eagle program. Companies that pay their workers $15/hr minimum would be eligible to display that symbol. I'm sure it would fill goldy with pride to see a proud blue eagle with NRA MEMBER festooned on the front door of The Stranger HQ.…
Goldy, I liked your article a lot, mostly because you bring forward some issues that have not gotten much play. Raising the minimum wage would certainly cut back on the hours needed to be worked to get by (i.e. have enough food and shelter). There are differences state by state in how much money is needed to get by (mostly due to the cost of shelter), but currently the cost of living exceeds the minimum wage by a great deal in all states. Raising the minimum wage could possibly have the side effect of opening up jobs. The only way we will find out is for someplace to have the great experiment. I hope Seattle will move to a $15 minimum and then we will find out what happens.

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