Don Stark is a partner at Smith & Stark, the Seattle based lobbying firm to which the No campaign fighting SeaTac's $15 an hour minimum wage initiative has paid $45,000 for "research." This is his job—opposing a $15 an hour minimum wage.
So it was interesting to hear Stark's rather frank remarks about the initiative at an August 20 meeting of the policy council of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce:
I've uploaded the entire 6:30 minute clip I'd been forwarded, so you can hear the conversation in context. But there are a couple of moments that really stand out, not the least of which being Stark's blunt acknowledgement that $9 an hour isn't a livable wage:
"It’s going to be an interesting battle. We see the overall rhetoric from the Unions is pretty much about, you know, people have such difficulty supporting themselves on a minimum wage, I mean, you couldn’t possibly have an apartment and support a family and so on on $9 an hour and I don’t think anybody can argue with that and I don’t think anyone should argue about sick leave either, it’s very popular from people's point of view."
So the No campaign's lobbyist is basically advising his clients to stay away from the underlying issues of the $15 an hour minimum wage debate. Good to know.
The other telling moment comes when an unidentified audience member explains exactly why this SeaTac initiative is so damn important to the Seattle chamber—because it's about to "migrate" here:
"So that’s why we are engaging on both levels, bringing all the stakeholders together in Seattle to say the first line of defense is to defeat it in SeaTac, that sends a message. I’m already getting calls from council members saying ‘you should start your discussions now because the living wage is coming.'"
Hear that? He's already getting calls from Seattle council members warning him that "the living wage is coming." Heaven forfend! (Which council members are warning him—and why—well, that's another question.)
And that's why it's so important to working people in Seattle to pass this initiative in SeaTac.