And at the businesses that can survive, how many of those employees will receive less hours and less benefits as the owners try to cut costs? I think that is an important part of the conversation that is being forgotten.
I've never eaten at one of his restaurants, but again I have to wonder if people who pay $17 for a lamb burger are going to be outraged about a small increase in prices to cover higher wages for the workers? Is the $14 breakfast really being sold near cost? What does the diner near my house which sells much the same thing for less than half the cost do differently? Do people who are already paying double for breakfast mind paying double and a half?
I love the Stranger's not so subtle flip-flop on this issue. What changed your mind? Pressure from your advertisers?

@3: It always amuses me when people think of blogs and other news/opinion outlets as being monolithic in thought. You get that multiple writers work for The Stranger right?
> I don't want these slogans because they're nonsense. Let's talk about real numbers.

If this gets us away from Sawant's chanting-undereducated-20somethings approach I'll fucking take it.
Could someone explain to me why there can't be a tiered minimum wage for tipped employees/non-tipped? You know, like the Federal minimum wage?

Many many years ago when I worked as a waiter, waiters made $2/hour, 'makers' and cooks made $10/hour, the waiters still made more at the end of the day.. While I'm 100% for a $15 (or higher) minimum wage, it does seem perfectly reasonable for employees whose majority of earnings comes from tips to receive a lower wage.
@4: I take it you missed Tim Keck's editorial announcing the shift in the Stranger's coverage on the minimum wage. You should check that out. Why do you think he felt it necessary to write that editorial?

I'm not sure what decade Douglas is living in where he thinks you can get a home on $15/hr.
Waiters should not make more than cooks.
What the fuck is wrong with you Frizzelle? So we're just gonna raise some people out of poverty wages? Dishwashers are less valuable than cooks?

All this hand-wringing by small businesses is absurd. You know what you do when you have to pay more for labor? You increase prices. Or maybe you take in less profits. I don't know about you but I don't think we need another Tom Douglas restaurant anytime soon. If you can't increase prices or lower profit margins, well, I'm sorry but lights out. Thankfully when you shutter your store, you'll be able to get a job dishwashing at $15/hr.

I'm fucking sick to death of hearing businesses, whether big or small, complain about how high of a burden we're placing on them for worker safety, environmental regulations, paid sick leave and YES, wages. Apparently the legislature can suck Boeing's dick while it takes away its employees' pensions but we can't ask for people to at least make enough to afford an apartment, some food and some fun?

You know what poor people do with money? They don't hoard it. They spend it. On local businesses. So STFU. You can't support progressive and radical candidates and then undercut them when they propose legislation they stumped on. If you had concerns about this, I have a former councilman who probably could have used your endorsement six months ago.
It's time the "owners" of these business realize that "their" profits come from the life, labor and experience of its workers and the incomes reflective of the same of its customers.

Share ownership, share profits with those whose lives have been given in exchange for it. Stop selfishly behaving like the earnings from the work of others is somehow yours alone.
"Dishwashers are less valuable than cooks"

Ahh the idiocy of the looney left. Yes, people with skills should not be paid more than unskilled labor. How did that work out in the USSR? Lawyers get the same pay as street sweepers, doctors get paid the same as janitors. What could go wrong.
What's sad is how far the collective IQ has dropped without Goldy sitting next to these guys to challenge their assumptions. The Stranger really needs him back to help clean up these sloppy, halfassed arguments before they see the light of day.

Now it's back to just being a conduit for propaganda instead of leading thought into new (and better) directions.

Sweet how Tom Douglas wants all the (mostly white, mostly male) cooks of Seattle to make more so they can buy a house for the missus and the kids. But (mostly female, mostly minority) tipped staff? Well that's pin money. The girls don't need a raise.
" Thankfully when you shutter your store, you'll be able to get a job dishwashing at $15/hr. "

Where, at the other shuttered restaurant down the street?
@5 I thought leftists were only a bunch of over educated ivory tower losers, but I guess now we are an uneducated horde? You rightwingers need to pick a side. Also, 20 somethings have the highest educational attainment of any generation. Also, I can tell you from experience, I eat at traditional restaurants a hell of a lot more now that I make over $15 than when I made $10. Just look at BoL statistics on consumption as a function of income, this shit isn't rocket science, even for us chatting Neanderthals.
For those relying on tips, we should be discussing a system that essentially mirrors the commission structure of many professions. If a server's tips plus modest hourly wage are less than $15/hour for a pay period, the employer would be required to offset the difference. And if the tips plus modest hourly is more than $15/hour, the employer doesn't need to do anything. Of course, those relying on tips might find their ability to under-report their tips to their employer a bit more difficult.

It's really not that difficult to find a solution to this "problem".
$5 extra per person for a Tom Douglas restaurant dinner is almost unnoticeable. The best solution for tipped employees is just lower the tipping rate; e.g., from the 18% that is average at Tom Douglas restaurants to, e.g., 13 or 15%.

Tom can just raise prices ~10%; that is the $5 million on $46 million in annual sales he says a $15 minimum wage would cost. At 13% tipping, the average customer would just have to pay 5% more. The vast majority of his customers will just pay the extra, and he will still make a nice profit.
Keep writing for your advertisers, Stranger, and you'll soon find them to be your only readers.

Businesses advertise in The Stranger because you have readers that they want as customers. Write for the readers, not the advertisers. Every newspaper that takes the side of advertisers against its readers ultimately loses both.
@12 You forget that these job creators don't see race, and women should be grateful for getting to flirt with men 2-3x their age for the privilege to live under a roof.
Pretty depressing to see the Stranger being pulled to the right like this. Never thought I'd see the day.
@16 Wait...did he say that his profit was only $2m on $46m in annual sales??

Can I see those audited finances?
And of course an across the board minimum wage applies to all restaurants. It isn't as if everyone will go eat somewhere cheaper. Every restaurant in town will have to raise prices, for the same reasons. Except maybe those whose prices were already so high that they can absorb it out of their fat profits. The idea that every restaurant in town will go under and everyone will just stop eating is silly. Is everyone going to sit in their cars on the toll bridge for 45 minutes to eat in Kirkland? To save $5 a plate?

And of course, consumers will have more to spend. See also: The same arguments were made every single other time we raised the minimum wage.
@2: I have to wonder if people who pay $17 for a lamb burger are going to be outraged about a small increase in prices to cover higher wages for the workers

The market we're talking about isn't just eaters of $17 lamb burgers. It's also people who spend $7-$8 for lunch, $10 for the occasional dinner out, or $3 for a beer.

Douglas has a number of different restaurants at different price points, and it's going to be the lower-margin, lower-priced restaurants that can't make up the difference. And this isn't just about Douglas - it's true of any restaurant that tries to make a go of selling lower-priced meals, because their margins are lower, and their customers have less disposable income.

The bottom line is that unless your have 4 arms and can do the job of two people, the value of dish-washing isn't $15/hour. And consumers tend not to pay more for things than they are worth.

Also, I can't see this working unless Douglas also raises the wages for his cooks. Cooks are skilled workers who play a much more valuable role in a restaurant than dishwashers, and they'd be right to feel entitled to receiving relatively more pay.
@20 I would love to see some people who are opposed to $15/now do just this. Open the books, all items, including direct pay and profit to ownership. Let's see the truth of the impact that is being claimed.
@12 I agree with your complaint about the lack of Goldy, but let's be realistic - he is essentially a Democratic Party operative. He's open and unapologetic about that, and he's useful to have around, but some people have a big problem with him doing his thing with The Stranger.
@21 it's not $5 a plate. It's $5 a head.

The prices would go up by 10%. So a $17 lamb burger would now be $18.70.

On his website he says that he does around $50m in annual sales ($46m may be correct).

Aren't we all a little curious what his salary is on top of it?
@20, 27: yeah, restaurants are super low-margin. Even when you're selling expensive burgers.
@22, "The bottom line is that unless your have 4 arms and can do the job of two people, the value of dish-washing isn't $15/hour."

Yeah who do those hot-shot dishwashers think they are, anyway? How dare the person with the most miserable job in the restaurant think they deserve a living wage!
I'd like to see realistic wages and get rid of the culture of tipping for everything.
What's really great is that the wealthy and politically connected, powerful < 1% of this country have succeeded in getting struggling workers to fight against struggling local businesses and vice versa, and have essentially taken all the heat and attention off of their own corrupt, selfish, selves.
Can we ban tipping in general, then we don't have to fight this stupid battle over tips? Does anyone actually like tipping? Aren't we all Mr. Pinks deep inside?

Tom could raise his prices by 15% AND ELIMINATE ALL TIPPING at his restaurants, and pay the additional salary out of that. Since most non-assholes tip 15% at least, no one would be paying more for their dinner. What am I overlooking about this apparently easy solution?
This is so pathetic. Screw this. It's like I'm reading the Seattle Times. I'm so boycotting The Stranger.

It's sad, it's what it is. The Stranger has sold itself out so much.

@25 Operative my ass. I WISH the state Democratic Party acted on integrity and supported progressive causes as opposed to being sold out. (You know, like The Stranger.) They can only get away with this because the Republican Party is utterly disgusting in comparison. That's why Sawant won.

Screw this.

How about we give everyone on the autism-asperger's spectrum a medical exemption from tipping? That way the rest of us can go on with our lives and stop having to listen to what a conundrum tipping is for those with handicapped theory of mind and limited emotional sensitivity?
I think the root problem for the blow back from the business elite in Seattle over the past month or so is pretty simple. Just follow the money. When the sacred "small business owners" suddenly realized the couldn't be successful paying piss-poor wages they went on the attack: as being the "adults" in the room.

What they don't want to do is to regress to a time when owning a small business met you did something you enjoyed doing: had a passion for. And 40-50 years ago that same small business owner didn't live like royalty when compared to who they employed. Sure, they took home a little more money, lived in a nicer place and drove a nicer car. But it wasn't the modern mentality of " I own a business and have to live like a Real Housewive of wherever".

What many, if not most of these small business owners need to look at is a mix of their own salaries and what else they take out of their business, look at what they charge and how they do business. Instead they are volunteering themselves to be nailed onto the cross crying that they won't give up that new car three or four years or they won't give up that super nice vacation and instead take just a nice vacation.

This has more to do with small-time business greed than actually coming to the table with an attitude that respects those who make their lifestyles possible.

Damned Stranger being pulled to the wacko right by discussing all facets of this issue. Never discuss and learn, just do!
Here's something that occurred to me:

Right now the federal minimum is $7.25/hr and the WA state minimum is $9.32. The ratio between those two wages is 1:1.29.

If the federal minimum is raised to $10.10/hr and the Seattle minimum is raised to $15, that ratio would be 1:1.49. That's not much higher.

As this article describes, our state has done very well (higher employment, lower poverty) with the highest in the nation minimum wage:

When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out.

In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 -- the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.

Shouldn't we seek to maintain that status, in Seattle and in all of Washington?
Anyone else notice that whenever one of these scary scenarios such as "a quarter of the restaurants will close" it is always a guess or an "estimation" and never based on facts, reality, or any kind of statistical analysis?

I wonder why that is.

Also, if I had the choice of A) raising thousands out of poverty/off the welfare rolls in addition to strengthening the consumer economy by giving consumers more money, or B) allowing 25% of restaurants in a city to close, that is a really easy decision.

Really easy.
@35 I love tipping because it gives me a chance to do mental math, and I always tip 15-20%. I hate tipping because it is a feudal mess that covers deep sexism/racism/classism with the performance art of fake smiles and push up bras. I don't tip at taco bell or at the DMV or at QFC, the rest of the world doesn't tip. Also it was mean to call me autistic, though mostly because I feel it is unfair to insult them by conflation.
@36 Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell and the other "big name" Seattle restauranteurs aside, what evidence do you have that all small business owners are living this ridiculously opulent life you describe? If you can't back it up with fact (and I will guess the facts won't back you up), then your assertion is just as useless as Tom Douglas declaring that a quarter of the restaurants in town will close. And none of it helps us actually figure out how to make a $15/hour minimum wage work in practice.
Well, certainly the most important thing in this whole debate is protecting the profits of the business owners. Anything that cuts into profits is just simply a no go. For their employees to be able to afford rent, food, childcare and healthcare is as nothing, nothing I tell you, when stacked up against continuing, increasing profits.

That ought to be the starting point of any conversation on this topic. Right? I mean, it's not like those grubby employees have anything at all to do with creating those profits, right?

And if one in four restaurants closed, the other three are going to have lines out the door. And then entrepreneurs will see the lines of customers and see an opportunity. Even at $15 per hour.

Tom Douglas, what on Earth made you want to do business in the state with the highest minimum wage in the country in the first place? Obviously something about that economy told you it was an environment you could do well in. You know what it is? Less inequality. Inequality is bad for consumers and bad for business. That's why you're here. And it's why you won't leave.
@21 There will be more money to be spent, I don't know why the business owners who have spoken up so far won't acknowledge that. I guess one issue might be a lag between the wage increase and the consumer spending increase. People have to make the money before they can spend the money, and the smart ones will stabilize their personal financial situations before increasing their discretionary budgets. In that light I could see a phased-in $15 minimum wage eventually become the compromise put forth.

I decided I'm not boycotting, but I didn't bother to pick up a copy this past week. It wasn't even in protest that Goldy left--I guess I'm just sad he did and don't really feel much like reading it. Anyway, I hope you stick around; me, I'll just have expectations of a lower standard--not really a big change in light of how the content has been shifting the last few months.
For everyone that thinks that Douglas customers can just pay more: please put more thought into the economics of this. Of course if you raise the price for something fewer people will buy it. At every level, customers will decide if the price is worth the experience. I often decide to eat at home because of the cost of eating out. Raise prices a few dollars, and I'll eat out less often.

That's a fundamental effect of the $15/hr legislation that should be agreed on by both sides. Raising the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs. Absolutely. Any job that's only worth $14/hr to the employer, for instance, just isn't going to exists anymore.

And that's ok. It's a rational choice we can make as a society - do we care enough for the minimum wage that we're willing to put some back on welfare to do it? Sure, we can hope $15/hr will stimulate the economy enough that we won't have to do this, but it's a hope and not a science-based one.

Personally I'm on the fence. Having a high minimum has its own benefits that might beat out the losses (and there are more losses than this - we'll also lose business to the suburbs since we're only tackling this at the city level). But let's not pretend that everything will come up roses and there's no downside.
@ 41, judging from at least SOME of the "$15/hr NOW NO EXCEPTIONS" comments I've seen on various posts, the people holding that view would be just fine if all those businesses closed as a result. But none of them have struck me as coming from people who really had reflected deeply on that side of it. Surely some of their favorite shops and hangouts would be among those who shut their doors.

I'm watching this closely because this can be done right and begin a trend toward raising the national minimum wage, or it can be done rashly, become a big fiasco and end up grinding minimum wage to a halt - perhaps even give the GOP the ammo they need to repeal it (a real danger, given that they have a good shot at taking the Senate this year).
@43: For most people, the rational response to a significant increase in restaurant prices would be to brown bag it for lunch and cook at home for dinner. Nobody gets paid $15/hour when I do the cooking, serving and cleaning myself.
Um, so Tom Douglas owns 12 restaurants, & would have to close 3 if he paid $15/hr.

That would leave him with his small little empire of *9* businesses. Oh, he’s opening new ones? & this doesn’t even count the other 5 places he owns? I think he’ll be fine.

You could argue that he’s able to have so many restaurants because he’s profiting off of cheap labor. If the problem is workers stuck below a living wage, perhaps we should stick to that topic. He's already tackled some shift to $15/hr and come out fine. And maybe he should cut out the pie delivery via horse...
To add to what Matt said, this is why so few people get active in fucking politics-

It's all rhetoric, hot air, and bullshit.

Y'all can't wait to get all up in everyone's face with your opinions and name-calling.

Show me some real studies, show me some real fact-based evidence that this will have benefits that outweigh the liabilities.

Oh, right, it's economics, the worst, most bullshit-filled "science" ever after (or maybe before) Creationism.

This right here is why 93% of the population doesn't give a flying fuck and doesn't bother turning out for elections.

Show me hard numbers for how many small businesses will fold, and what the net job loss will be. Show me hard numbers for how many new or newer cars all the servers and busboys and booksellers will buy, and what the net stimulus to our economy will be.

Otherwise I don't give a flying fuck. Like most people I have more directly important things to worry about. Like those damn kids that won't stay off my lawn.
@ 43 -"Tom Douglas, what on Earth made you want to do business in the state with the highest minimum wage in the country in the first place?"

Do you think it could be the lack of a state income tax, perhaps? You know, that wonderful policy that ensures that the poorest WA state citizens shoulder the majority of the tax burden, thereby keeping The Shoulders of the Makers (TM) free from such a dreadful onus?

How dare the rabble rise up now and demand a living wage! Why, they should kneel down and kiss the polished Italian loafers of THE BOSS whenever they grubbily show up to grubbily work. The very idea!
Goldy takes down Dom:

It didn’t take long after my departure from The Stranger for my former colleagues to start going McGinn all over Kshama Sawant in a half-hearted attempt to, I dunno, look all serious and independent at her expense? Or something.

Coincidence? Feel free to speculate all you want.

The post could use a thorough fisking, but suffice it to say that Dom’s thesis is silly. Refusing to answer a question is not the same thing as saying “no.” Besides, to imply that Sawant’s steadfast support for $15 now somehow equates to a refusal to compromise would be like saying that I oppose Obamacare because I passionately support a single-payer system. What we want in life and what we ultimately accept are often two different things. How we get there is the game that’s currently afoot, and by refusing to compromise early, Sawant is playing the game a helluva lot better than Democrats did on health care reform.

(Not sure if the "fisking" typo should read "frisking" or "fisting"...)
@49: Tom Douglas will be fine because most of his restaurants cater to people who aren't all that price-sensitive (tourists, Amazon employees, etc). Your favorite mid-price neighborhood hangout, on the other hand, won't be so lucky.
Tom Douglas ... would have to close 3 if he paid $15/hr. I think he’ll be fine.

And the employees who just lost their jobs?

P.s. the ONLY part of this I could get behind would be a mandatory $15/hr wage AND a 100% ban on tipping.

Honestly, other countries make it work just fine w/o tipping. Screw the capriciousness of the whole concept.
@46) Please read my comment @38 and the article I linked RE: higher wages killing jobs myth.
@52 "Fisking" is a thing, it means fact-checking.
@52) "Fisking" is not a typo, it is a real word, you jackass!
Next up for (national) discussion: why it is absolutely 100% A-Ok right-fuckin'-on for Walmart et al to offload their cost of doing business onto the backs of the American taxpayers.

They don't have to provide a living wage to their employees or provide healthcare or any other benefits because Uncle Sam is right there with food stamps and Medicaid. They (The Makers [TM]) don't have to absorb those costs of doing business because we, the people, are right there paying out of our pockets every year, making up the difference.

Because the #1 most important thing in America is PROFIT. There is no higher, no more sacred calling in all the land than THE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH.

I mean, obvs. Otherwise, why would we drive the money around in armed, armored vehicles while the human beings sleep on the streets? Right? Right?!?!

Really? Is that a fact? Or just a made up hypothesis about a scary future if we take some "strange" "new" action? Also known as FUD. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

Can we test if it's a fact?

Well, in 1979 when Washington eliminated the tipped worker exemption and increased tipped employee's hourly wage by over 60%, did most people brown bag it? Did most people cook at home?

No. Didn't happen. The restaurant biz took it in stride and didn't even miss a beat.

You don't have to use FUD to tell us what is going to happen if we raise wages. We know what will happen. Look at the history.
@46 - some percentage of people, like yourself, might eat out less. But there will also be another percentage of people who are making more money and will now be able to eat out more often. Or who couldn't afford to eat out at all before and will suddenly be able to do so. I believe those percentages will balance out, or possibly even result in more net business for restaurants and other small businesses.
@31: What's really great is that the wealthy and politically connected, powerful < 1% of this country have succeeded in getting struggling workers to fight against struggling local businesses and vice versa

THIS. Until you redistribute the ridiculous and unproductive concentration of wealth at the highest end of the distribution, you are just chasing your tail.
Do restaurants really do a lot of hand-washing of dishes? Weird.

Coincidentally (or not), these same restaurateurs oppose wealth redistribution. Meinert, for example.
@56 You're confusing correlation with causation. I absolutely agree that raising a state's minimum wage won't collapse the economy, if that's your point. But Seattle's economy isn't booming because of our high minimum wage. Or maybe it is - I'd need more data than *I took a nap today and the sun came out, so napping causes sunshine*.

There's some moderately encouraging data in a study comparing a small WA town to a nearby ID town, but that's a pretty small data set to base such a large decision on.
@65) I didn't actually make the claim that "higher wages necessarily cause higher employment", I cited the fact of WA's higher minimum wage and higher employment rate to refute the claim that "higher wages necessarily cause lower employment".
@36 is the most bizarre positioning on small business that I've read, and I've read a lot. Complete mythology.

However, @3 has a point; "If you had concerns about this, I have a former councilman who probably could have used your endorsement six months ago."

@66 And I'm telling you it's lazy to jump to that conclusion. A large number of factors lead to employment rates overall. If one factor is dropping unemployment faster than another is raising it, employment goes up.

You're right. The vast majority of small businesses in this country have no employees, in which case the minimum wage is irrelevant to the discussion of those businesses, unless self-employed people are going to be cited for stealing wages from themselves.
@58: If by "real" you mean invented by the blogosphere and not in any reputable dictionary then yeah, it's real. Calling someone a jackass because he's not familiar with every entry in the Urban Dictionary? That's a real jackass.
@2 You undercut your own argument by whining about price.

Your local diner will have to increase prices, too, right? Sure. Not as much. Your local diner isn't 5000 sq. feet of premium down town rental space.

Besides. Have you asked your local diner owner what they feel about the minimum wage increase? I'm betting not.

Also. As for that $15 lamb burger? Your local diner doesn't pay insurance to it's workers, either. Or offer 401k's. Douglas's does.

Either stop complaining about how much restaurant food costs - or - raise the minimum wage to $15. You can't do both.

We have to pay what things actually cost. We accepted hidden costs for so long our views are completely distorted and selfish.

You want other people to bare the burden. Guess what? Even you will have to pay more, not just rich people, if you want fair labor. That's the way it is.

@Matt in Denver: it's call standing up for something. But we know you'd never understand.
@62 How much do you think Tom Douglas makes?
To qualify for discussing this topic people should be made to disclose what they do/where they work. Because clearly most people are delusional as to how a small business operates.

I'm guessing most people work for large high-tech industries and are totally divorced from the reality of their own companies exploitative labor practices and hidden-cost supply chains. Either that most people are unemployed shut ins.

Otherwise I can't figure out where this ridiculous view of how small business works actually comes from.

So, what data set are you using for projecting a positive economic outcome over the short and long term by maintaining the status quo of paying low wages to workers and allowing business profits to be retained by owners?

Insisting on NO CHANGE requires a data set of proof every bit as much as an argument in favor of SOME CHANGE.

Assuming that tomorrow will be the same as today is every bit as faulty as assuming that changing today will result in a better tomorrow.

Anyone who requires a "data set" to know what the right thing is to do has already lost their way and their argument.

Living in a good, fair society is no more complex than this - treat others with the honor, dignity, justice and respect that you would want in return.

I don't know about others, but I'm well aware of the sheer number of marginal small businesses out there, and I'm not talking about industries that have a small profit margin as a matter of course; I'm talking about businesses that are scraping by on low-wage labor and massive amounts of personal debt the owner has taken on.

What I get hung up on is the argument that labor policy has to hinge on preserving the existence of these businesses. How is it that labor is always expected to take one for the team but commercial landlords aren't? Or government coffers? What about suppliers like Sysco? Why don't Sysco and Costco supply small businesses for free, the fucking worthless takers?

If a low-wage worker is expected to get by on $9/hour to preserve the existence of the rat-hole restaurant down the street, how is it that every aspect of property ownership/leasing, business-to-business transactions, business loans, utility fees, government taxation policy, any and all business regulations, and etcetera aren't also completely overhauled so no business anywhere ever goes under?

My favorite Portuguese restaurant ultimately went out of business 20 years ago because the clueless restaurateur was serving alcohol to minors. Obviously this means that all restaurants should be exempted from liquor laws.
Yeah, believe it or not, it's faster by hand than by loading into an industrial washer. A dedicated 3-sink system moves pretty fast with a skilled dishwasher. That, and a lot of stuff is too large or oddly shaped to fit well into any automatic washer.

When I worked at restaurants, the only stuff that went in the auto washer were small plates and some of the cheap glasses. Everything else was faster and easier by hand.
@77 Who do you think starts small businesses? People like me. I won a small business. We've been paying well above market rates (and paying our interns I might add) for over twenty years. 90% of you don't know a thing about how it works and what it takes. I do.

Somebody starts a landscaping business or a cafe and all of sudden they're on the other side of some Social Darwinian ledger with you guys.

The entire point of interfering in the Mighty Market and raising the minimum wage in the first place is to nurture a less draconian, more fair, diverse and compassionate economic playing field.

It's small businesses that create community, culture, and character to our public spaces. All small businesses are asking for is some flexibility and reasonable opportunity to adjust. Not ONE small business talked about on SLOG on anywhere else is against the increase in total. Not one. You guys are strawmanning the shit out of what they say.

Basically you guys suddenly become Libertarians and are just saying "Fuck you if you can't support an 85% labor increase all at once. ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE!"

And that is contrary to the whole point of the wage increase and is ultimately self destructive to our communities.
@ 72, as if that alone makes it right. I know some fellas in Germany that stood up for what they believed in 80 years ago. Some people in Russia did the same thing 97 years ago. In the latter case, it wasn't until the 1960s that they were able to produce as much food in that country as they did in 1913.
81 posts before Matt from Denver loses the argument.

Tell that to Gray's Papaya.


In this environment? Of course they're not. They just want exemptions and loopholes for their own businesses.
I'm okay with him shutting down a quarter of his restaurants if it means ALL of his staff gets something close to a living wage.
@8: Says somebody who doesn't understand that the front of house tips out the cooks too.
@ 83, one post before a knee jerk misunderstanding.
@46) "That's a fundamental effect of the $15/hr legislation that should be agreed on by both sides. Raising the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs."

And I'm telling you it's lazy to jump to that conclusion. A large number of factors
lead to employment rates overall. If one factor is dropping unemployment faster than
another is raising it, employment goes up.
@87 Possibly a misunderstanding, and certainly knee-jerk, if by knee-jerk misunderstanding you mean I didn't go back and reread every single post prior to yours to make sure that someone else didn't already invoke Hitler.
@ 89, is it always wrong to invoke Hitler? (Not that I was doing that, if you read carefully, but I might as well ask.)
@14 I'm not a right winger. I simply don't have to agree with how liberal policies are pressed. Chants and signs and marches are bullshit. Thanks for making an ass of yourself.
In countries where there is a livable minimum wage, food at the grocery store tends to cost about the same, but going out to a restaurant is very expensive. And those restaurants are still just as full as in the US. Because paying everyone who currently makes minimum a lot more per hour (and quite a lot of other people's salaries go up too who make above minimum), means there's a lot more money floating around that people can use for luxuries like restaurants. Or, what will happen is people will tip $5 less. So waiters currently making below the $15 an hour even with tips (which is a lot of them not at expensive restaurants) will make a living wage, and those at expensive restaurants will no longer be making ridiculous money for the same job.
Surely you know Godwin's Law.
@90 See @93.

And yeah, it's pretty much a bad move in invoke Hitler in a discussion that really has nothing to do with Hitler, and actually, it seems like you pretty much did invoke Hitler, unless maybe you were referring to the German sports fan's utter confidence in the unconquerable talent of Germany's sprinters in the upcoming Olympics. So you lose the argument and Slog today. (And I wasn't actually addressing your argument, just your Godwin.)
@31 is 100% correct.
@ 94, that's too bad you wish to limit the scope of the discussion so much. Not unlike... well, I'll let you draw the parallel.
Again, it seems that "small business" in the context of these debates equates to something more like, "small, local business empire." If you own multiple restaurants, boutiques, or bars, I have a hard time believing you can't find the money to pay your employees a living wage. Unless, of course, your business is only profitable because you pay your employees a poverty wage.

However, I'm still completely open to compromise. Here's one that'll directly tackle income inequality and save small business: We fix top compensation rates at a ratio of 1:12, meaning the highest paid employee (or owner) can't earn more in one month than the lowest paid employee earns in one year. If your company/restaurant/store exceeds that, then you get hit with a tax to subsidize the various businesses that will go under solely because of the minimum wage increase.

Simple enough. No more outrageous CEO salaries and no little businesses going under. Right now, if this were enacted, the highest salary permitted before incurring the taxation penalty would be around $230,000 a year. With $15/hour as the minimum, it would be $374,400 a year. That seems like a very comfortable life to me.
You know who hates $15/hr? All those ethnic restaurant you dipshits claim to love. they absolutely loath the idea, it will destroy them. Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Somali-owned restaurants survive on low cost immigrant labor.

So enjoy fucking them over white hipsters!
@97 we hear from guys Mienert because that's who the press (The Stranger) talks to (he's next door) and who has the social media presence, etc.

Clearly nobody is going out and talking to small shops, cafes, sole proprietorships. If they did this discussion could be reasonable. But the Sawant Cult on SLOG are happy to lump them all under this umbrella of evil greedy exploiters. It's insulting as hell.

As a small business owner myself, I bet their concerns are in closer alignment to Mienert, Douglas, and Sowell than the Sawant Cult.

For example most small cafes and the like are in competition with large chains like Starbucks. Chains can afford the outrageous rents in Seattle and have cheap non-local supply chains, and can offset a labor increases in Seattle by cutting wages and benefits in Austin. Say good by to small locally owned cafes.

Businesses like cafes are trying to offset the difference with tips. Lumping all small businesses together with corporate chains as "poverty wage" exploiters is ridiculous.

The problem with your salary cap idea is that a city council person or state level representative has no authority to any of that and would have a pretty short political career even proposing it.
@84 So making the labor market equally more expensive for multi-national fortune 500 corporations AND mom and pop cafes is your solution to "this environment?" Treat everybody the same? How Libertarian of you.

The point is to nurture an environment friendly to labor and small business so both are not crushed by corporations.

Your absolutist, one-size-fits-all, strident approach makes no sense at all.
@62 - if protecting small business is the aim, shift the tax burden on to corporations, stop all this corporate welfare nonsense, and provide subsidies for smaller businesses. If it's about protecting local business and local culture, that should be considered a worthwhile investment. That and restore income tax, and create a greater diversity of tax brackets. In Canada, where I live now, we used to have ten. Now we have three. Which means, inevitably, more burden is shifted on to middle and middle lower class.

@81 It is a false dichotomy. It's not you vs. labour costs. It's you vs. mega corporations who pay a fraction of what you do in taxes and wages per capita, and make vastly more profit, and can outcompete you without trying.

@Everyone else who suddenly became an armchair restaurateur:

It might be true in organizations like Douglas's that there is such a thing as an isolated job that falls exclusively under its title, like dishwasher, but I doubt it. Dishwashers, who are by and large immigrants or high school age, don't just pull down the Hobart dish washer and churn out clean dishes. They often serve as maintenance, janitor, porter. They change the oil in the fryers, clean out the rotisserie and are exposed to massive amounts of chemicals. They are not as replaceable as you might imagine, and training new ones is an expense. Without them, your restaurant is screwed. And it's filthy, backbreaking work, so you are forced to rely on immigrants with questionable legal status because NONE OF YOU would do that kind of work.

I did my time doing that kind of work when I was growing up in Seattle, and I wouldn't do it again even for $15/hour. But I'd be willing to pay a little extra for that service.

As for the front of house staff, I don't see why they shouldn't have to give a percentage of their tip to the house, if their base wage is $15/hr. Not all of it, because I guarantee you if you raise the minimum wage, tipping as a practice will fall off, and probably die a natural death.

And if you're going to pay your cooks a premium, and your dishwashers a high minimum wage, then the front of house shouldn't have to tip to the kitchen at all. Dishwashers should still be at the bottom of the ladder.

For a small business, it's fair that the people who make good tips because of the popularity and brand of that restaurant should have to contribute to holding up the structure that employs them. McDonald's may be able to support a $15/hr minimum wage, but it's not like they're going to take business away from these small businesses (let's face it, mostly service and retail) because they are a niche of their own. The question should not be "what is the value of this particular type of labour" because it simply isn't. The question is profit. It's all about profit. And profit needs to be protected by forcing companies that damage the local business community to absorb some of the cost of that, and extending protections, start up loans, subsidies to local business. Put the expenditure on the companies that can absorb it. Costco, Wal Mart, McDonald's...even more than modest legislation will hardly hurt them. So maybe they have to take a couple millions out of executive pay. Oh, the suffering.

If you want northern European style socialism, you have to be prepared to pay for it- and also own that's what it is you want. You don't get a high quality of life for free. And you aren't going to get it any other way.

Tom Douglas is seeing the increase in minimum wage from his point of view, how it will affect his prices. He is not looking at the issue from the point of view of the consumer, who will have more money in their pocket to pay the extra $5. He raised the cooks pay in isolation. If wages rise everywhere, the prices will go up and so will the buying power of consumer. We can do this. And his business will survive because more people will more disposable income. Lets raise the minimum wage to $15 now.
"You don't get a high quality of life for free"

Just ask the Greeks! Oh wait, don't.
"If wages rise everywhere, the prices will go up"

Keep chasing your own tail, eventually you'll understand how inflation works.

    Please wait...

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