$15 Now What?

The whole country is watching, and the mayor has a plan. But Seattle's history-making wage hike is still a long way from reality.

Comments

1
I remain unconvinced why McDonalds, Starbucks, Lowes et al. can't pay $15 right away. I understand small businesses and nonprofits having to adjust, but are Murray, O'Brien, Licata, Godden, and Harrell seriously going to defend big business in this town?
2
I liked the original compromise of a $22 minimum wage in 2022 and $15 in 2015
3
This article states if you are a non profit, your minimum wage doesn't hit $15 until 2021. But if you are a non profit with 2,000 employees, I believe that falls under the large business category.
4
I love the continued evidence that the mayor on his path to be governor, or whatever, has no understanding of how the city government works.

His answer to everything is a committee and then he pats himself on the back when someone else comes up with an pseudo solution. Meanwhile back in reality town, the jerks in the council continue to fight over rideshares that people like, and for nimby causes people hate.
5
What are we, barbarians? I like $26.50 right now for everyone, no tips included. None of the wage theft inclusions. (This number is based off of cost of living compounded with production rate since 1982.)

Why should a single mother struggle in seattle for a job that pays minimum wage? We are not animals.

If you are a business that can not adjust, your ripping off your employees. You dont deserve to be in business.
6
What are we, barbarians? I like $26.50 right now for everyone, no tips included. None of the wage theft inclusions. (This number is based off of cost of living compounded with production rate since 1982.)

Why should a single mother struggle in seattle for a job that pays minimum wage? We are not animals.

If you are a business that can not adjust, your ripping off your employees. You dont deserve to be in business.
7
Is that a chart or the 1972 NYC Subway map?

It looks like the transfers at Jackson Heights.
8
@2

Of course you liked it, because you live in a lefty loon fantasy world. Inteadof working for a public entity, perhaps you should give the real world a shot and work in a competitive environment.....then see how your nutty economics works chump.
9
I'm interested in the ripple effect this will have on state and federal assistance programs... If a $9/hr worker currently qualifies for and is receiving child care assistance will a bump in pay to $15 disqualify or reduce the amount of assistance? Full time daycare costs about $1000/mo. Taking on a daycare bill would eat up the raise the worker just got.
10
If the end product looks like the Mayor's proposal, it's a win. The key is for Sawant, 15 Now, and other supporters to push back against business proposals for watering down the compromise with pro-worker provisions of equal weight, so that any changes end up balanced and the final proposal is no worse than the Mayor's plan.

More progressive provisions would include an indexing formula that is better than simple CPI (such as one that tracks gains in overall productivity, or key local expenses such as rent), or a short-term adjustment to indexing that exceeds CPI until a wage equivalent to $15 in 2014 dollars is met.

And everyone should realize--this is not an end. Higher wages are one step in a locally-based progressive economic revival. Next up: paid vacation time? Money for local labor law enforcement? Extension of city benefits (sick leave, minimum wage, vacation time) countywide? Progressive funding of education (say, countywide property taxes instead of by valuations in each district?) Everyone should be thinking of real next steps, beyond just getting $15/hour passed.
11
Okay. Serious question about unintended consequences: So if minimum wages goes up 36%, wouldn’t one expect business owners to expect 36% more out of their lowest paid earners?

Wouldn’t they be willing to hire a less experienced, less skilled person at $11/hr than they would expect to get at $15/hr and wouldn’t more people (with stronger skill sets) be willing to do work that used to pay $11/hr for $15/hr.

For example, that 36% could be the difference between employers being willing to hire menial labor with little or no English language skills and employers expecting to hire menial labor with native English language skills (and being able to do so because those jobs become more appealing at that pay grade).

Won’t more qualified people be looked for (and prove willing) to fill more valuable jobs?

Sounds like Seattle will only have room for $15 people with $15/hr skills, and $11 people with $11/hr skills are going to be frozen out of the market. That may not be a bad thing. One would expect it to translate to better service and higher productivity.

But I think it’s foolish to expect employers to be “good” with paying more and not getting more… I expect a reorganization of the bottom of the work force… No more $11/hr jobs for $11/hr people. $11/hr people are going to have to look to Spokane and Tacoma for jobs.
12
Seriously, complaints of Murray's proposal being confusing are either stupid or condescending. It isn't hard to grasp, but the more people say it is, the more others will disengage before even hearing the rather simple proposal.

It reminds me of CNN's handling of anything John Kerry said back in 2004. He could be clear, concise, and elegant in response to a question, and the commentators would go, "Well. That was confusing."
13
That chart needs one more line: $15 in 2015 (not 2017) adjusted for cost of living/inflation in following years. That will more clearly show just how far behind a real $15 minimum wage we are any given moment.

That said, it's still mostly a victory for the $15 forces.
14
@9
Isn’t part of the goal here to pay people enough to get them off of assistance and paying their own bills???

If the state has determined that a person earning $9/hr. today can’t afford daycare, but a person earning $15/hr. today can afford daycare, then congratulations Mom! You’re self-sufficient now!

That’s why they call it a “living wage” because you can live off of it… without welfare.
15
Has anyone published a study on the impact that a $15/hr. minimum wage in Seattle will have on state and local poverty assistance programs?

One would expect significant savings if all workers in Seattle are paid a living wage (and, therefore, no longer in need of public assistance).

Maybe we could earmark the local savings to save Metro bus service!
16
@9: So you're saying that with an increase in the minimum wage, people are likely to pay for their living expenses using wages paid by their employers instead of relying on welfare for which you, I, and everyone else pays?
17
To the point being made (I think) by #9... I've talked to a lot of people who run nonprofits and small businesses with minimum wage employees. Most of them have told me that every year when the minimum wage goes up, employees ask to reduce their hours to make sure they don't lose benefits.

I'm not saying that's right or wrong. I suppose I'd probably do the same thing if I needed to. But it makes me think we won't see much reduction, if any, in what we the taxpayers are "subsidizing".

I think people will do what they need to do to get their public assistance checks. Maybe a few won't, but on the other hand a few others will have lost their jobs so all in all it will come out the same at best.
18
I think once the big boys hit the deadline and have to raise wages, you'll see the smaller employers rapidly raising their wages too in order to keep/capture a share of the best employees.
19
@17
So we're increasing the minimum wage so that minimum wage earners can work fewer hours for the same pay check and stay on public assistance???

WTF?

20
Oh! Wait. That's right. This was the Socialist's idea.
21
I am hoping that Kshama comes up with a new "cause celebre" because otherwise she will find that Seattlites will move on, which will be Seattle's loss.

I voted for Ms Sawant perhaps 60% because of the $15/hr thing, and 40% because Richard Conlin was a world class tool. As far as I am concerned, she has already won on $15/hr, and if she tries to brute force a more aggressive timetable, she will see enough of her support slip away, such that if/when she faces a more reasonable choice than Conlin, she will lose.

There are many more, also socialist, topics she can tackle, that will play well in Seattle, and she owes us, her "left-but-not-extreme" supporters, the evidence that she is not a one trick pony.

I support the mayors compromise, and hope Sawant doesn't make it impossible to get anything more done. If she does, she will have lost my support.
22
If you can't pay your employees/slaves a livable wage,then you deserve to go to Hell. --- http://www.whywork.org
23
How about a front-page story about how We keep funding the Upper Class? --- http://www.corporatewelfare.org
24
This tale is but a chapter in the larger story (concerning the battles over ideas such as free will,merit,and value:do you know what the word "axiology" means? --- http://www.dictionary.com).
25
I hope there's another try at getting money out of local elections this November 4:it is related to the nexus of this news article. ---- http://fairelectionsseattle.com
26
A living wage is only $9 per hour. I know, because I can budget and survive on this amount. $15 for jobs requiring no skill or experience is too much.
27
A living wage is only $9 per hour. I know, because I can budget and survive on this amount. $15 for jobs requiring no skill or experience is too much.
28
Here's hoping we get democracy back from Big Tainted Money, and soon.
29
Question: Has anyone that is commenting on this article ever owned or ran a business before? Specifically being tasked to manage a P&L statement for a business of any size?
30
Hello. I make $15 dollars an hour. I acquired this job/pay scale after being in the industry as a cook for 10 years. My work hours vary from 30-35 hours a week TOPS. Overtime may happen once a year. After taxes and deductions for medical for myself and my infant, I take home anywhere between $650-$750. That's twice a month. My rent which is hard to find these days, is $800 for a one bedroom. I have no car, no cable, no gas (even though I have gas units in my home which I shut off because I cannot afford both gas AND electricity),a pay as you go phone for $30 a month, my electricity bill is $280 every three months. I qualify for a small amount of food stamps (because I make $15, whoohoo), which go to my baby and husband, who is our infant's caretaker because we cannot afford daycare. He was laid off work shortly after my child was born. We do not buy clothes, things, or take-out food. All of our money gets spent on our child's needs, who we love and cherish. We are not on any public assistance, and literally are hanging on by the skin of our teeth. We are not miserable people, nor are we ambitious.

My $15 dollars an hour is keeping 3 people alive, we're making it work. Some may, some may not. Godspeed to those who are in need, and bless those who may never want for more than what they have.
31
@29
Yes.
I have.
32
@30 "I make $15 dollars an hour. I acquired this job/pay scale after being in the industry as a cook for 10 years."

May I ask what wage will you be asking for / are being offered now that newly hired, unskilled cooks will be hired on at the wage it has taken you 10 years to achieve?
33
@9:they can get a tax break for being a parent (ever heard of Section 8?)Man,are you trolling?Or did you grow "up" in an Ivory-WHITE Tower in the SSuburbs?Pfft!!! --- http://www.inequality.org
34
@29:have you ever been a member of the Global Class Majority?(the Lower Class).Are you aware it is getting more difficult by the nanosecond to become a sole proprietor on Our Planet? ---- http://theyrule.net , http://www.inequality.org , http://www.corporatewelfare.org , http://www.akpress.org
35
"But, just like the business organizations, she notes that it's not all up to her—the decision on whether to go to the ballot will have to be made by 15 Now members." - Anna Minard

With that line, Anna, who has long ceased to be a reporter and is just a cheerleader, she loses any credibility that she had left as that line is just dishonest propaganda as no one without a bias or agenda believes that Sawant's not inexorably tied to $15 Now, and that they're not both in goosestep together.

What Anna has not spend a moment reporting on is the effect on Human-Services and Non-Profit Organizations. Not a moment. Do you wonder why? Ever thought to yourself why?

Why? Because there is no way for Anna or Dominic to write about this without having to deal with statements like this, relating to what'd happen if Sawant's plan came to fruition which would result in "A slow path to diminution of services".

And, that's the best news... There was a meeting that The Stranger did not report on as far as I'm aware or could find. It was the a meeting for the Committee on Minimum Wage & Income Inequality on the impacts of a Minimum Wage Increase on Human-Services and Non-Profit Organizations.

Here's a quote for you, they would have to “Reduce services or shut their doors completely.”. That's one of the rosy outlooks from a woman who runs one of Seattle's largest Human Services organizations.

But, don't believe me! Watch it yourself -
http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/vid…

There's no good news here for the Stranger's cheerleaders and the Sawant cadre. No good news at all.

Maybe that's why Anna nor Dominic have not reported on this...?

So, y'all that call small businesspeople liars or ignorant about their own businesses can't call these Service Org leaders liars, just like it's tough to call Tom Douglas or Howard Shultz a liar.

This nice but bad plan towards $15/hr. is falling apart.

This is integrity-time-check. I don't anticipate Anna or Dominic having the integrity to admit that their incessant cheerleading was leading to a situation that would have harmed so many here in Seattle, but what about many of you folks, their cheerleaders? Will you start to consider that perhaps you have not been given the opportunity to understand the whole picture? That Anna & Dominic have been basically been dishonest with you by withholding information? Or...maybe they just don't care to learn about the issue and only report on their agenda & bias-laden 'facts'?

The REAL facts are getting out. They're not good for Sawant's amateur-hour politics.
36
@19 - "So we're increasing the minimum wage so that minimum wage earners can work fewer hours for the same pay check and stay on public assistance???

What a great point. People will work less hours in order to stay on city services, while the businesses still have to figure out how to increase their income.

Or, these same people get kicked off of their social services because they'll be earning too much money...

Wow. Good point. Do these people even THINK about these more complex issues? Nope.
37
At minute 49, Sawant is shown to be an empty seat by ignorantly suggesting that the state will increase funding by $2mil the first year, and then up to $13mil by the end of the term...all the while the state is CUTTING funds, not ADDING funds.

And then she tries to again manipulate the conversation to move away from numbers to talk about people...because the numbers are so badly for her.

The woman with ~1,200 employees points out to her that she's had CUTS in her funding, not raises like she and Licata are trying to suggest would happen...

Again. Dreamers vs. reality.
38
@31 - I ask because I worked as a manager for a start up smoothie shop before and was tasked with managing all aspects of this business as if it were my own. From my experience labor expense was largest portion of the expenses and was very difficult to manage staffing and the corresponding expenses. The numbers just didn't add up to pay these type of wages and be in the black on the P&Ls. Because of my first hand experience with this I would assume that majority of small business would not have to "adjust" as comment #1 suggested but in reality have to make hard decisions about shutting their doors.

I'm really not very political so I'm not looking to make any statements here I am simply wondering what the outcomes will be to those hardworking small business owners that are just trying to live the American dream.

@34 - I was not born into money or handed anything if that's what you mean? I would not be sure exactly your point since I am not sure I understand your big words as I could not afford to go to college in my youth. However I did work hard and achieved success through my determination so now I can afford to one day help my son go to college when the time comes. As an immigrant this is part of my American dream and I won't let anything get in the way of that.
40
"Why should a single mother struggle in seattle for a job that pays minimum wage? We are not animals."

Are you sure because animals don't know how to use condoms either.
41
"Taking on a daycare bill would eat up the raise the worker just got."

Oh lordy, you mean they might have to pay to raise their own children when they get a raise? How terrible! Fuck me, I want a raise and to keep my freebies too!
42
So which one is it:

“I qualify for a small amount of food stamps”

or

“We are not on any public assistance,”

•••••••••••••••••••

So you’re poor. You’re not under a bridge.

“We are not miserable people, nor are we ambitious. “

We’ll maybe that’s your failure, not being ambitious. Why should ambitious people pay your bills?

“My $15 dollars an hour is keeping 3 people alive, we're making it work. “

With public assistance.
43
I can see a lot of people cutting back on their hours to keep making the same amount of money so they can get the same government assistance. In this case the company will have to hire someone else to fill those lost hours, so it's going to look like unemployment is going down.
I'm also curious about the people that are currently making between current MW and 15/hr, are they getting raises at the same amount as the increase or will they be making the same as entry level workers?
Personally, I'm considered a skill worker, but I make less than 15/hr now, I'll be looking to take someones job that is less skilled in Seattle for an increase in pay. Sorry unskilled worker, go look for work outside Seattle.
44
@43

Up at comment number 30something I had asked that of someone else... I'm really wondering how it's working out for people who have achieved ~15/hr over a number of years. The person I had asked indicated 10 years for them to get to 15/hr.

Anyone out there have word on what your employer is going to do?

Employers too, how are you going to handle this?
45
@44

I am an employer, I own 2 restaurant/bars with 34 employees between them both. Here are some effects that I will be instituting

1-Eliminate dishwasher shifts Sun-Tues nights costing approx. 1.5 jobs. I will invest in more dishes so we don't run out during the dinner rush on those nights, but chefs will now do the dishes in the slow times.

2-This will stagnate & depress kitchen wages in the long run, the group most deserving the raise & where you are most likely to find minorities. For every chef who gets at most a $1/hr raise there are 2 tipped employees getting $5.68 each. Over 85% of the wage gains go to tipped employees, the lowest of which already makes $19/hr factoring in credit card tips only. As more of the labor budget goes to tipped employees there will be less for kitchen raises & advancement.

3-I will raise prices at both restaurants 10% in addition to normally occurring inflation. The 2nd restaurant opened a yr ago & is just breaking even. If the neighborhood doesn't support the price increase it will close, costing 16 jobs. The 1st restaurants will be fine, but I can't risk the 2nd dragging it down if it loses $.

4-If I am lucky enough to open a 3rd restaurant/bar it will be in Edmonds, Kirkland, or Bellevue while this economic experiment plays out. This is just a wise hedging of my investments. One thing that discourages capital investment is uncertainty.

Lastly I hope that this all works out, and that people keep spending $ in Seattle, and keep tipping as they have been and we all are better off. If so I will increase the kitchen tip out to offset the depressed wages as tipped employees take more labor. This is as long as tipping the kitchen remains legal in Washington State, if it is made illegal like in other states, this is really going to screw over the kitchen & increase wage disparity in full service restaurant.
46
this is the best thing to happen for working people and families in 40 years. The world is watching. Seattle citizens should be proud of Councilhuman Ms. Sawant and 15Now. We, the workers own this country and city and hopefully will stand shoulder to shoulder against the corporations. The sooner $15 an hour becomes the minimum wage in our city, the sooner the benefits will be commence. More money flowing thru the coffers of business, the mo better for the local economy and families. Do it for the children. Don't be a scrooge like Tom Douglass. The world fighters against poverty are watching and taking notes. Can't believe Tom Douglass calls himself a democrat and can't pay his chefs $15 and hour. His food and menus have never impressed me. Just another wolf in sheep's clothing in my opinion.
47
@45 - I'd love some input as to how the increase in food prices are impacting your bottom line on top of the chance of labor costs going up significantly. Seems like a perfect storm, or rather shit-storm of pressures on the restaurant industry.
49
@48 Highly suspect source. You're looking at a libertarian think tank funded by the ultra right there. Here are some sourcewatch links -

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?tit…

The Washington Policy Center is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Por…

The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Ame…
50
@48 link to 'The UW Study' mentioned in that article - https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/…

No links or substantiation is provided for 'The Nickerson Analysis'. Do you have a link for that?
51
What will these people spend their money on anyways? This culture is sunk into evil. Feeding more money to poor is not going to help. They need to help themselves.