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Monday, February 24, 2014

Raising Minimum Wage AND Keeping Small, Independent Businesses in Seattle

Posted by on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Over the weekend, Danny Westneat interviewed a lefty restaurateur about what a poorly crafted $15 minimum wage law would do to his business. The restaurateur's first thought: He'd have to close.

It would be a huge loss to the city if we lost local, independently owned businesses that can't absorb a 60 percent wage hike the way that chain businesses can. We can raise the minimum wage and keep our independent business alive if we do this correctly. Small and independent businesses need time to manage the financial impact of a wage increase as large as this. Otherwise, big chains who can leverage their labor and supplies nationally and internationally will have an unfair advantage.

It's not like there wouldn't be restaurants left in Seattle if a poorly planned $15 increase goes through—it's just that they won't be the ones who care about our community and sustainability.

 

Comments (100) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
Bravo!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 24, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Hey, cool, as long as they increase wages ASAP that's fine. But don't pretend they didn't open because of the existence of an exploitative market. Their underlying virtue is undermined by the fact that depressed wages made it possible for them to open in the first place.

It's kinda like pro-union papers with unionless shops. You are the evil you're supposedly standing up to. The real question of virtue is in what you do to fix things.
Posted by Baconcat on February 24, 2014 at 10:30 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 3
Dude, this is AWESOME. An actual voice of reason on the pages of "The Stranger"?

Thank you, Tim Keck, for stating the obvious that everyone seems to be ignoring. I mean, sure, McDonald's can afford to give people 15/hour, but can the little Pho' restaurant up the street from me, that makes maybe 3-5% profit (the standard profits margin for restaurants in major cities) afford to raise wages for all front of house, tipped employees by 60% with just a few months notice?

Not only that, but people need to realize that if everyone starts at 15/hour, you can be guaranteed that most unskilled workers will never make 16/hour. How is anyone suppose to get a raise if this goes into effect?

That, and not just restaurants, but there are a bunch of jobs no one is thinking about: non-profits. A homeless shelter or a food bank that has a few part time staffers who just need a little compensation to afford taking time away from their full time job will also have to pay this absurd amount. While a restaurant at least can always raise prices, a non-profit can't just magically increase donations and grants.

I make minimum wage (plus tips) and I know good and well that I'll probably be out of work if this thing happens.

Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this
fletc3her 4
This isn't exactly complex math. If you costs increase 25% then you increase your prices 25% to compensate. We will all know the minimum wage hike is happening and will expect higher prices. Every competing restaurant is going to face the same pressure.

And yes your $32 duck is going to cost $40. I don't understand why restaurateurs feel their menu prices are so sacrosanct. Is there some rule that people will spend $32 for duck, but not a dollar more? Is there some reason why a burger has to be $13?
Posted by fletc3her on February 24, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this
5
This is just one of the reasons why $15Now is irresponsible. It's not nuanced, and not well thought out. We should raise the minimum wage, but do it smartly. We need to phase it in, and possibly exempt some small non-profits, social services, and child care, and consider a longer phase in period for small businesses as well as a tip credit (I think even Dominic agrees). But this isn't $15Now. It's probably what Murray Committee comes up with
Posted by Meinert on February 24, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
6
@2

Gee, who knew that if you spent all your high school and that one year you spent at community college smoking pot and playing, professional or trade jobs would be hard to find?

It's not exploitation to pay a man what he's worth. It's exploitation for someone refusing to invest time and thought in their own future to demand exorbitant wages for unskilled labor.

And Keck is partially right. For people like you folks who hate corporations so extremely, the destruction of small local businesses a massive raise for their least valuable employees would cause is a generous gift.
Posted by Seattleblues on February 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM · Report this
fletc3her 7
@3 How do you think it's going to work? Will restaurants make do with less wait staff so they can keep prices down? Or are there just going to be a lot fewer restaurants? Doesn't it seem almost a truism of private enterprise that the void will be filled by entrepreneurs who are clever enough to compete in the new environment?
Posted by fletc3her on February 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 8
@2
I agree. But you CAN BE FOR higher wages for working while still BEING AGAINST this push for raising the MM by 60% all at once, which so many of the 15/now supporters don't understand.

How about this: raise the MM to $10.50 across the board. That isn't too bad. And then offer tax incentives for businesses that go higher and include them in a "Blue Eagle" style campaign. All businesses that give a higher starting wage above the new $10.50/hour mark will be allowed into a Seattle version of the "Blue Eagle" program and advertise as such. Customers will be encouraged to shop at Blue Eagle businesses and hence give them more business and make even more businesses want to join.

That's a fair compromise...but for the 15/now people, compromise is a dirty word.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 9
My heart goes out to those already paying $32 a plate for roast duck. Westneat's prescient column has shown us a nightmare future world where nobody can order roast duck for less than $40.

Look around you. Look at every one you know. Now count how many of them are eating roast duck. Now imagine: what if some of those currently ordering roast duck at $32 were priced out? What would they have to eat instead? Probably wouldn't be able to afford anything but fucking parmigiano-crusted pork tenderloin.

Eating parmigiano-crusted pork tenderloin, like some kind of animal.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 10
@7
More likely, that void will be filled with "entrepreneurs" that have the cash on hand to handle such a big labor expense, i.e., corporate restaurants.

If this passes, you can be GUARANTEED that within a few short years Seattle will be home to a bunch of big chain restaurants who can afford to pay the busboy $31,000 a year.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 11
If the staff got $15/hr. min., maybe tip inflation wouldn't be pushing the not-a-tightwad tip up past 20% on the post-tax total.

Posted by Max Solomon on February 24, 2014 at 10:46 AM · Report this
12
@4

Actually, menu prices are part of a calculation of what people will pay. There really is a point where my behavior as a consumer changes based on pricing.

Apart from that, if prices across the board go up, what pray tell happens to that raise for unskilled workers? That's right, children, their quality of life is unchanged because of a little thing we grown ups call Inflation.'
Posted by Seattleblues on February 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
fletc3her 13
@6 Yes, every worker should be paid what they are worth. But, how do we establish what an hour of labor is worth? The job market has failed to set a reasonable price for labor. Employers have lowered real wages for decades until much of the full time workforce requires public assistance to make ends meet. Luckily, workers are able to negotiate en masse by using the power of our government of the people to set a floor wage which will ensure that employers pay full time workers a living wage. This will reduce the subsidies which the rest of us need to pay in order to underwrite the low wages of employers by shifting the burden of paying for those employees to the customers of those businesses.
Posted by fletc3her on February 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
14
@3 They can raise prices. And since everyone is in the same boat wagewise, everyone's prices will go up, so they will not be at a competitive disadvantage.

Meanwhile the higher wage will mean more money in the hands of people who will likely spend most of it locally. That's more customers and revenue for businesses.

That's why you actually have to raise the minimum wage instead of hoping companies will do it voluntarily. Doing it unilaterally would make a company unable to compete on price. Doing it this way means we all pay a little bit more so that some people can live a whole lot better.
Posted by giffy on February 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 15
Oh, and what about this irresponsible rush to raise the minimum wage? "You can't raise it so fast", you sputter. "We need time!" you plead.

Actually, your first warning that the wage was going up was all those years where worker productivity went up and real wages fell. That was when you should have started preparing. But maybe you didn't have time to think about that shit. Not your problem, am I right?

So you want time to prepare? OK. Here: start preparing now. The minimum wage is going up.

There. You've been warned.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM · Report this
16
I'm guessing that small, independent newspapers in Seattle would also be hit hard by huge, sudden wage increases. Should be interesting to read future Goldy posts on this topic.
Posted by David from Chicago on February 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM · Report this
17
Perhaps there should be a lower min wage for classes of jobs where a large portion of the compensation comes from tips.

I would also argue that at $15/hr, the employer paid portion of health care should also count towards the $15. Otherwise, the logical employer response is to move everyone to a 29 hour work week and drop health coverage (if provided).
Posted by drshort on February 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM · Report this
18
@4 I'm not so worried about the price of roasted duck, but I imagine day care (which is already ~$1000/mo) will likely rise to ~$1300 - $1400/mo.
Posted by drshort on February 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 19
@9
Liberal short sightedness at play again, I see.

I started in restaurants as a bus boy at a small restaurant that was able to offer good food at an affordable price. I was paid $5/hour plus tips. Now, I make almost 40,000 a year. If I wasn't able to be hired with no experience fresh out of high school, I have no idea what I would be doing right now.

And it's not just the roast duck. Prices of everything would go up, raising the price of living for everyone, including the poor. That article also said a burger would $18. But I guess only rich people eat burgers...

And there are only so many price increases the public will accept before they no longer do as much business in Seattle but instead take it to Bellevue, Kirkland or some other nearby town. If you think that is far fetched, look at Vancouver WA and Portland OR: most people in Vancouver go to Portland for a night out. Why? No sales tax. If people will go to another town for a 6% discount, why wouldn't Seattlites go to another town for a 20% discount?

And no, this doesn't mean there will be no restaurants in Seattle. It just means that it will be a lot harder for businesses to run and for people to be employed.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Rotten666 20
unintended consequences looks like date night is at the Cheesecake factory or Sizzler, cause I don't think my favorite restaurants are going to survive 15 an hour.

Unfortunately or "progressive" leaders only see the world in black or white.
Posted by Rotten666 on February 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 21
@15
Actually, most workers productivity rises in the last few years has been the result of technology, not anything the workers are going. And that technology costs money that the firms themselves paid.

One worker with a company computer is just as productive as three without one.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM · Report this
22
@19: Yes, if this goes through we'll see a lot of restaurants and small businesses leave Seattle and open in Shoreline, Renton, Tukwila, etc. And a lot of workers who live in Seattle will have to commute there.

Posted by bigyaz on February 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
23
@18 I'd think you would be more interested in having a livable wage for the people who take care of your kids than a hypothetical increase in your costs. High wages = more qualified care givers. Seriously, I sit comfortably at my desk and earn a nice income, while some people toil with poop cleaning chores at minimum wage. No empathy, it seems, for the toilers.
Posted by shotsix on February 24, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Report this
raku 24
John Platt -- this is the guy who owns a $700K 3-bedroom 4-bath house in Seattle by Lake Washington according to KC property records. And he can't afford to pay the people who are making him that obscene wealth a measly $30K.

Dave Meinert made the same argument. He owns a 4 bed 5 bath house on the water in Burien plus a SECOND house in Queen Anne.

The point is that these assholes make way too much money. That's the POINT of the $15/hr law -- to reduce income inequality. If they have to cut their obscene wealth to a mere low six figures or *gasp* high five figures -- WONDERFUL.

If you can't run a business without exploiting workers -- GREAT. Go out of business, FAST. Go the way of exploiters who relied on child labor, indentured servitude, and $5 wages.
Posted by raku on February 24, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Residual 25
We wouldn't be having this conversation without the 15Now folks. They don't need to compromise but it goes without saying that a compromise will be found. That ultimate compromise is the product of of workers standing up for themselves and demanding a living wage. Why can't folks go to work for 40 hours a week and be compensated in such a way that they are able to be. You, me, our friends and neighbors should be secure in our ability to be alive. If any person is capable and willing to contribute to our city they should not be forced to use the "social safety net" just to make ends meet. $15 x 40 x 52 = $31200. I don't know what you make but when one applies the rest of the math involved in being a human in this city you find that 30K goes pretty fast, even for a single person.
Posted by Residual on February 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM · Report this
seandr 26
You mean a 50% increase in labor costs might force a significant number of small businesses to close? Shocking.

Guess it's better late than never that someone over at the Stranger is pointing this out.

Anyway, if I may channel Dear Leader Kshama Sawant, who gives a fuck about the bourgeoisie capitalist scum? If the businesses close, the workers can seize the means of production and run them themselves.
Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 27
@18
Good point. If a daycare worker making $13/hour suddenly makes 15/hour, that will raise the price of child care. So those people who pay for childcare now have less money to go out, and less money to spend at restaurants that have seen their prices go up. With less money going into the restaurants and higher labor costs, restaurants are going to be pressured even more so to cut hours.

Few people are talking about what this will do to the spending power of those who make 15/hour or more already. If their spending power is cut, than MW service workers will be needed less, and with already higher labor costs they will loss their jobs at an even higher rate.

The more you look at this the more you realize it's a VERY bad idea.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
28
I don't see why "small, independent" businesses should be allowed to privatize gains and socialize losses. If your business requires that your employees live below the poverty line to make a profit then get the fuck out.
Posted by Solk512 on February 24, 2014 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 29
@21

The reason we know that's not true is by comparing the much greater productivity of American workers to the rest of the developed world.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Report this
30
@28 ok, shut down the business. Got it. What are the employees making now?
Posted by drshort on February 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
31
And I love all the stupid fucks who keep forgetting that people with more money in their pockets are better able to spend it. How fucking disingenuous can you get?
Posted by Solk512 on February 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 32
@23
I was a "toilet cleaner" for a while. A job cleaning toilets is better than no job at all. That's the point. And as I said, I do think wages should go up. I would favor giving tax incentives to businesses that increase wages and a city wide campaign to only patronize businesses that pay a living wage, enticing even more businesses to do so.

A low paid toilet cleaner is happier than an unemployed toilet cleaner. That's the point.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 33
@19

Your rugged individualist hero John Platt is a liberal, according to your reliable reporter Danny Westneat. Do you even know who your villain is here?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 34
@29
Much of the developed word is still not a tech savy as the US is. After all, we invented the personal computer, the smart phone, the GPS etc.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
35
@30 They're working in successful businesses that aren't being held back by competition that relies on exploitation.

Did all of you guys just stop at Econ 101 or something? You realize there's more than one semester, right?
Posted by Solk512 on February 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 36
@33
Who the hell is John Platt?

And the real enemy is the corporate-owned state and authoritarianism, be it right-wing (like Pat Robertson) or left-wing (like Sawant)
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 37
@31
And those who make more money as a result of this, after they get their hours cut, will make not as much money as they thought, and after the price of everything goes up their money won't go as far and after they no longer qualify for the earned income tax credit, that's more taxes they'll have to pay.

Those who make more money out of this will find their gains aren't what they thought they would be and as for a raise, GOOD LUCK EVER GETTING ONE IF EVERYONE STARTS AT 15/HOUR.

Some people are just ignorant when it comes to economics.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM · Report this
38
@35 No, not all of them will. Fewer businesses means less jobs.

@36 The "enemy" is globalization, technology, and automation. While technology and automation have greatly reduced the need for low skill labor, globalization has flooded the market with people work for pennies and can be hired/fired at the drop of a hat.

And those who create the technology to eliminate the need for labor or move jobs to cheaper overseas suppliers reap the rewards that come from the cost savings. Those are your inequality driving forces.

Yes, corporations have molded the laws to their advantage, but take that away and you still have the same problem, just maybe slightly less.

And this is why I have reservations about Seattle's $15/hr min wage. It simply increases the incentives to adopt more automation and more "offshoring" (in this case just outside of city limits).

A real solution must make hiring US labor more attractive, not less.
Posted by drshort on February 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
39
@24: A home worth $700k is hardly a sign of immense wealth these days. Any home in a decent neighborhood goes for $500k. When did he buy it? How big is his mortgage? How much debt does he have?

Unless you know any of those things, complaining about someone's 3-bedroom (!) house just sounds like angry, envious class warfare.
Posted by bigyaz on February 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 40
@34

Yet the US has the worst, slowest Internet infrastructure in the developed world.

You're making shit up because you don't know what you're talking about.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on February 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
raku 41
39: Are you serious? We're talking about someone having a 3 bedroom house in some of the most expensive land in the country. There's quite a difference between a 3 bedroom house on Lake Washington and a 3 bedroom house in Yakima.

How many 3 bedroom houses, anywhere, do you think their workers who make under $30K have? They live in shared housing and apodments, if they're lucky. If you consider a $500K house to be normal, then by all means let's fight for these people's workers to all own $500K houses.
Posted by raku on February 24, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
raku 42
Is anyone working on a boycott list for rich assholes fighting against $30K/yr for their workers?

So far I have:
- Dave Meinert (Lost Lake, 5 Point, Big Mario's, Le Comet)
- John Platt (St Clouds)
- Niz Marar (Red Light, Aprie)

Tim Keck (owner of The Stranger) is getting pretty close to being on the list.

If anyone starts a website as a boycott reference, I'll donate money.
Posted by raku on February 24, 2014 at 11:41 AM · Report this
43
@38 And that's why WA state has such a huge unemployment rate compared to the national average.

No wait, that's not the case. We're doing great here. Fuck any business, large or small, that pays so little that employees require government services to survive.

It doesn't fucking matter if you're "small" and "local" and "independent" and "organic", it's all nothing more than bullshit marketing.
Posted by Solk512 on February 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM · Report this
44
As part of the idea of the tip is to supplement wages, would a 15-20% tip still be necessary?
Posted by Headlikeahole on February 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 45
@43
How hard would it be to relocate a business out of state vs out of city limits? We're not talking about raising the MW for the state, but for one city.

And actually, youth unemployment is worse in Washington than just about anywhere else, probably the result of a high MW. Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/states-wi…

Those other states just have bad economies in general. Washington has a good economy, but still high youth unemployment. Reason being youth are unskilled and unskilled workers are the ones who will suffer most from this 15/now insanity.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 46
The real lesson to take from all this is that this collectivism_sucks guy is totally clueless. Not even making a statement on the politics, but damn, what a know-nothing.

Anyway, despite what writers at The Stranger are pushing, Seattle is not a leader on this issue. While Seattle polticians make speeches, and activists set up websites and boycott Wendy's for a day, many other counties and locales across the country have raised their minimum wages to around the $11-$13 range, with incremental increases forthcoming.

As it is happening elsewhere, the rate is being raised by small amounts over a few years to give businesses and consumers time to adjust. There is no reason to think it would happen any differently in Seattle, once Seattle gets around to actually doing it.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on February 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Report this
MrBaker 47
@39, it is class warfare, it's been going on for 40 years, the wealthy keep getting more, everybody else are getting fucked.

Wake up.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on February 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 48
@42
Are you also going to boycott the taco truck run by an immigrant family that can't afford this increase? Are you also going to boycott giving to the food bank that pays its employees $12/hour?
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Report this
49
The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
Posted by unpaid reader on February 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM · Report this
raku 50
48- The reason there's no immigrant community opposition for the wage minimum is because we're overwhelmingly supportive of it. It's only the mega-wealthy assholes who are against it, because they know it cuts into their personal wealth. We're in the real world here. Your fantasy Atlas Shrugged bullshit doesn't apply.
Posted by raku on February 24, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM · Report this
52
restaurants could add 10% to their food prices and I'd barely notice.
Posted by DJSauvage on February 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM · Report this
JF 53
@41 $500,000 homes for everyone! Just hand 'em out like flapjacks!
Posted by JF on February 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
Goldy 54
Tim, I agree with your sentiment. I'm just not convinced of the premise that a $15 minimum wage would necessarily destroy small, local, independently owned businesses. I know that's what a lot of business owners claim. But that's what they claim every time a minimum wage hike is proposed. And yet they're still here.
Posted by Goldy on February 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 55
@50
Actually, there are many, MANY immigrants who are against this, but they're too afraid to speak up about it because Sawant's thugs have the habit of running into businesses and protesting. That will change, I guarantee.

As for "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand was a horrible writer, a sociopath, and a total piece of shit excuse for a human being. What the hell does she have anything to do with this?

Oh, and am I a "wealthy asshole"? Because you said, and I'll quote directly: " It's only the mega-wealthy assholes who are against it, because they know it cuts into their personal wealth."

So the fact that I, who has less than 5,000 in the bank, am against this completely destroys that "argument".
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
56
15 will also serve to further wipe out part-time jobs just like capping uber/lyft. Why do you hate artists, musicians and other low-impact off-grid types?? Oh yeah; I forgot it's the Amazon and Microsoft assholes that pay your bills; everyone else should be a full-time servant to your new ruling class. Theres no community here; it's just a grey-goo, globalist/corporatist free for all. FUCK YOU
Posted by carsten coolage on February 24, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 57
@51: I was not making an argument, I was simply pointing out that you are a clueless dolt, as your many daily posts show. Please try to keep up, or better yet get a job or a hobby so you do not have hours of free time to senselessly rant.

Also, small business owners are afraid of "Sawant's thugs?" What in god's holy name are you blathering about?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on February 24, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
58
@41: My point is that there are a lot of people in Seattle who own houses that are valued at $500k+ who are anything but rich. House values are in many cases paper money and don't (necessarily) reflect wealth.

Hey, this Platt guy may be rich as all hell, for all I know or care. But the value of his home, particularly in a city with very high real-estate values, isn't by itself an indicator.
Posted by bigyaz on February 24, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
59
Wait a sec, Tim. On what basis do we assume corporate chains would subsidize Seattle locations operating at a loss, just because they could? And for franchise-based chains, why on earth would they voluntarily subsidize local franchise holders incurring personal losses?

And how would you craft the measure to overcome 14th Amendment attacks?
Posted by RonK, Seattle on February 24, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 60
The way restaurant prices are going in Seattle, I predict we're going to see an $18 hamburger on menus within a few years, regardless of any changes in the minimum wage. We customers will also start having to pay 25 percent tips, like how we used to be able to pay 15 percent, but that expectation has increased as business owners have refused to increase their wages.

I mean, who does Platt think he's fooling?
Posted by keshmeshi on February 24, 2014 at 12:16 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 61
I'm also really curious how Tom Douglas can afford $15/hour wages. He does own several restaurants, but his operation is not remotely large enough to absorb labor costs the way fast food chains or even the Cheesecake Factory can.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 24, 2014 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 62
This explains why Sub Pop is expanding at $15/hour Sea-Tac ...

Either that or it's just whining by the 1% over how they need to pay slave wages ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 24, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Report this
seandr 63
@raku: we're overwhelmingly supportive of it.

The leader of the immigrant community has spoken!

Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 64
@57
Allow me to show how small business owners are indeed afraid of Sawant's thugs:

"The owner of a flower shop near one of the McDonald’s protests didn’t want to go on camera because she’s scared of retaliation, but said if the minimum wage goes to $15, 'I’m going to close my shop. They (the protesters) don’t think about us, the small businesses. They just think about the money.' "
Source:
Read more: http://q13fox.com/news/stories/fast-food…

And actually, unlike the trustafarians who voted for Sawant, I work full time at a restaurant job. That's why I'm so worried about this: IT WILL COST ME MY JOB.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 65
@61 "I'm also really curious how Tom Douglas can afford $15/hour wages."

In all probability he takes a slightly smaller cut of the profit margins.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on February 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 66
@54
Again, Goldy, time for those two words that make everyone advocating for a high MW run: AMERICAN SAMOA
http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2011…
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
67
@55: People get confused by your statements that we should help those less fortunate, but that it should be voluntary, because the rights of the individual are more important than the rights of the group. Most people have a hard time seeing how the less fortunate will be taken care of in an equitable way, since the poor are generally more charitable than the rich, and emphasizing the rights of the individual over the rights of the group is likely to have the opposite effect of what you seem to want.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 24, 2014 at 12:33 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 68
@65
The average profit margins for restaurants in Seattle are 3-5%. The only reason Douglass is rich is because he owns dozens. I'm worried about the guy who owns one Jimmy Johns, makes 75,000/year, works 50 hours a day himself and is there more than any of his employees.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 12:36 PM · Report this
69
If a business truly cares about our community, they wouldn't be exploiting the labor that lives here.
Posted by Solk512 on February 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM · Report this
70
@55 Casa Latina immigrant labor center already charges $15. I was at a rally where one of their folks spoke. They said it works!
Posted by Linda J on February 24, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
MrBaker 71
Re 59, discovers a straw man.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on February 24, 2014 at 12:40 PM · Report this
MrBaker 72
@68, and I'm worried about the people that think a big splurge is eating at Jimmy Johns.

The owner will charge more.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on February 24, 2014 at 12:43 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 73
@67
Very good points. Thank you for asking without name calling. I can respect those with different opinions from myself as long as they respect me. Thanks for having class!

As for voluntary society, it has happened before: we had social safety nets in the form of voluntary societies like the Friendly Societies England and the Fraternal Societies of America. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_so…

Also, with less taxation, people will have more money to give more to voluntary aid and charitable societies, who are A LOT more efficient than government run welfare.

I know this because my family was on government welfare. It was horrible and impersonal and those government "aid" people are uncaring as they come. They were nothing like the aid we received from caring community organizations.

Also, we could just transition things like welfare, social security, medicaid etc into non-profit co-ops that are funded through voluntary taxation.

If you're looking for a "survival of the fitness" type, left-libertarians like myself are the LAST PEOPLE who would hold such views.

As for wages, there is an easy way to fix that without government intervention. Sweden, that "socialist success story," actually has no government mandated minimum wage. So how are wages so high? Simple: unions.

I would be 150% in favor or making it illegal to fire someone or deny employment to someone for being in a union in Seattle. Do that and let workers organize themselves and negotiate with employers on their own, without government interference.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
seandr 74
@keshmeshi: I'm also really curious how Tom Douglas can afford $15/hour wages.

Because his margins are higher than average.

Douglas sells food/drink at higher prices/margins than the average restaurant. His restaurants also bring in more customers than the average restaurant.

What's more, he has a lot of restaurants, which insulates him from the natural ebbs and flows in business at any single spot. If Serious Pie in SLU has 3-4 slow months, for example, he can weather it out with the earnings from his other places. If Serious Pie in SLU where his only restaurant, a slowdown in business might force him to close.
Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 12:52 PM · Report this
COMTE 75
No time to scan all these comments, so apologies in advance if I repeat something someone else has already said.

When you factor in 0.95% WA Sales Tax and a 20% tip on top of that, your $32.00 roast duck actually costs around $42.00 already. The difference of course would be that, if a restaurant employee is earning $15 an hour, there would be no need to tack on the additional "gratuity for service" in the first place, with the result being that, even if the restaurant increased menu prices by 25% the patron would only end up getting hit with a roughly 4% increase as with tax the duck would now cost $43.80, which frankly, isn't exactly going to break the wallet of anyone who pays $42.00 for the duck today..

SB, you would have made a terrific plantation owner or "gentleman farmer" back in the day. Seriously, anyone who still believes their fellow human beings DON'T deserve to earn a Living Wage for whatever labor they perform is simply a human being who believes exploitation of others is a legitimate means of conducting ones own business affairs.
Posted by COMTE on February 24, 2014 at 12:57 PM · Report this
seandr 76
@raku: I'm about to get lunch - can you tell me the prices of the homes owned by the Korean couple who own Kyoto Teriyaki or the Pakastani guy who owns the Subway franchise on 15th? Or the Thai family that owns The Patio on 15th?
Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Hernandez 77
From the start, I figured that we'd end up with a gradual phase-in, possibly starting with a sizable immediate increase (like $12-$13/hour). As a compromise, it seems like it would probably have widespread support from all sides.
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on February 24, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Report this
78
Westneat reported that Platt "If [John Platt, owner of St. Clouds] passes that [raise to $15/hr] on to his customers, then St. Clouds’ burger with green chili aioli, which sells for $13, could cost $17."

Oh, really? An extra $4 per hour in the cost of his labor will cause him to raise the retail price by $4? Does anyone believe that there is an hour of labor involved in preparing, serving, and cleaning up after a single hamburger? Bullshit.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on February 24, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
trstr 79
If you're a "lefty restauranteur" and only paying the state minimum wage right now - less than a fucking hamburger at your joint - then yes, I hope you do go out of business. Go away. You are not needed. We don't want you.
Posted by trstr on February 24, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
80
@79 You realize that in many restaurants, the compensation is driven via tips, not an hourly wage. Just because someone is paying the minimum doesn't mean the employees are receiving low total compensation.
Posted by drshort on February 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
raku 81
76- Since they're not making their personal finances into a political issue, that's their own private matter.
Posted by raku on February 24, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 82
@80
I agree. If someone really thinks the servers at Canlis are members of the "starving proletariat masses" , then I need to know what kind of drugs they're on cause that sounds like some good shit.

I work for tips, have my entire life, and I never made less than $35,000/year. If this passes and no exception for tipped workers is included, it will mean higher costs and less tips and maybe even less money then we already make.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 24, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 83
@80,

That compensation is for waiters, not necessarily the rest of the restaurant staff. I guess it's traditional for restaurants to require tip sharing among many of the employees, but some courts have ruled that illegal.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this
84
Those tips are coming from somewhere. If the restaurant is charging $32 for food, the customer is ALREADY paying more than that by subsidizing their labor costs. Raise the prices and actually pay your employees. If you can't afford to pay you employees your business has already failed.

Employees should be getting a living wage and not groveling under the current racist/sexist/etc tipping system.
Posted by ishf on February 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
85
@61 - so you know, Tom Douglass raised wages to a minimum of $15 for COOKS only. I'm not sure if his cooks share in the tip pool or not, but a restaurant like The 5 Point starts cooks at $14 plus tips and benefits. Tom's front of house probably makes minimum with raises, but most of their income is no doubt from tips
Posted by Meinert on February 24, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
86
@85 The 5 Point does tip pooling? Hopefully one of their servers sues them
Posted by ishf on February 24, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
meanie 87
@85 SHUT UP DAVE NO ONE LIKES MATH HERE THEY JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT POVERTY WAGES AND PUNISHING YOU FOR OWNING A HOME AND EMPLOYING PEOPLE.

Despite no one being straight up against raising minimum wage, the pro people here are on bias huge assholes about it. zero consideration to unintended consequences or fallout, just 15NOW or your a bourgeois asshole who hates poor people.

This is amazing insight into the Seattle process as a whole. This dude was willing to be interviewed, seems to run a nice restaurant that his employees and community appreciates, and he is villainized, accused of supporting poverty wages, compared to someone who is for child labor and generally pissed on for daring to have the opinion that a *sudden* raise in wages will be bad.

Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on February 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM · Report this
seandr 88
@81: I see, so as long as you get to stick it to a few successful white guys, the rest are just collateral damage.
Posted by seandr on February 24, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
89
@86: Pretty sure tip pooling is not illegal in this state, but perhaps I'm wrong. Do you have a reference?

Posted by bigyaz on February 24, 2014 at 3:18 PM · Report this
90
@89 US Dep of Labor http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/w…

"Tipped employees are those who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips. Tips are the property of the employee. The employer is prohibited from using an employee’s tips for any reason other than as a credit against its minimum wage obligation to the employee (“tip credit”) or in furtherance of a valid tip pool."

"A valid tip pool may not include employees who do not customarily and regularly received tips, such as dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors."

Not a lawyer but it sure looks like Meinert just admitted to stealing from employees to cover labor costs

"A tip is the sole property of the tipped employee"
Posted by ishf on February 24, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 91
@90,

It definitely raises some questions as to how his proposal to include tips in the $15 wage would pan out. Is that before or after the server has to tip out to everyone else in the restaurant?
Posted by keshmeshi on February 24, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
92
@87 FTW
Posted by M. Wells on February 24, 2014 at 4:22 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 93
Threeeeee bedroooooooooooms
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 24, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
94
@73: Looking at the article, it sounds like friendly societies were more non-profit insurance than social safety net.

Also, I am curious what the basis of your beliefs is. If we were to find that voluntary payments were not sufficient to adequately care for the needy in society, would you change your mind, or is there a deeper issue at play? That is, are you more interested in the welfare of people, and believe that individualism is the best way to achieve that, or do you believe in individualism, but feel that it will also take care of welfare?
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 24, 2014 at 9:32 PM · Report this
95
To clarify, in @94, the first sentence is expressing my ignorance of how they work. Further information would be welcomed.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on February 24, 2014 at 9:38 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 96
@94 & 95
Friendly societies worked the same way as social safety nets, only they were voluntary. If you're smart you would join one, but no one is forced to pay into it, unlike things like Social Security that have no opt out.

As for taking care of the needy, we could indeed do so better without government. In private charities, 70% of the money goes to help the poor, while 30% goes to administrative costs (on average) With government welfare, its the opposite.

And there is very little chance we would not have enough to take care of the needy. Even with taxation and everything going on right now, donations to charities have grown faster than GDP over the past two decades. Image what would happen if taxation went down to the minimum.

And I don't believe in "individualism" in the sense that man is an island. I believe in letting people form communities to take care of each other without force. With government, force is used to steal (taxation) and order people around (laws that apply to victimless crimes)

If government got out of the way we the people could do what we were meant to do: serve one another, not because we are forced to, but because human nature urges us to.

Look at it this way: lets say you get a letter from the IRS, telling you that all welfare programs will now be funded through voluntary taxation. They ask if you would like to donate 0.005% of your yearly income to help the less fortunate. Would you agree? I know I would, as would most Americans.

Another year, you get another letter. It is saying that the head of the social welfare program will now be elected by the those who freely donate to it. A ballot comes in, you vote for the person who you think has the best plan to help those in need, and that person is now answerable to you and the other donors. As a result, social welfare is run more smoothly.

Another year, and another letter: it says that the social welfare program is now completely removed from government and is run as a nation wide non-profit co-op, funded through voluntary taxation and answerable to donors and includes things like food stamps, aid for child care expenses, homelessness prevention etc.

What have we just done? We've TRULY privatized social welfare, and it helped the poor because now they have programs that work.

In a minarchist society, all government will do is protect people and their property from aggression. That includes protecting the environment (everyone's property) and preventing fraud. The rest will be handed over to the people to run voluntary as a community.
More...
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 25, 2014 at 1:26 AM · Report this
97
The same people who are railing so aggressively against small businesses for even questioning wether they can absorb this kind of a massive labour cost influx, are the exact same people who would be screaming bloody murder if Mac Donald's or Walmart went in the middle of capitol hill, or any other inner city neighborhood. Well, maybe except Goldy, since he wrote a couple nice puff pieces on wall Mart and The Gap this week, but everyone else would go crazy!
It's odd to me how aggressive people are being towards small business owners, and their concerns. anyway...

I do believe whats being proposed would make in very hard on many of those small businesses that create vibrancy, sense of neighborhood, cultural diversity in business in our city, some would go out of business, some would limp along, some may be ultimately able to shift prices to absorb the increase enough.

I have one small business myself that would not be worth keeping open and about 8-10 kids, many of whom are musicians would loose their jobs. As its stands it breaks even, sometimes making 1k, sometimes loosing 1k. I can manage and feel ok about keeping it open right now, because it does provide employment for a group of kids who rely on it, while braking even. I also really don't think i can increase the prices anymore than they are, given the competition for cheap eats in my hood. I've made my raises this year, and we still struggle. At the same time, the kids are making more than the MW with tips they get, some nights safe to say hitting the $15 living wage.

In those cases like mine, I think you start to run the risk of pricing out very small niche business's, and you end up with a broadway street like situation. More condos, more chain restaurants, less sense of community.

That being said, I wouldn't agree that ALL small business will close. That's extreme, but some will. While I do think raising the minimum wage is due, raising it right is key. Total Compensation should be considered. If its a raise to $15, 6 year phase in for small business (employees under 99), 3 year for big box, perhaps. I would also exempt small non profits.

This type of phase in would at least allow people to create exit strategies for the small business's they currently have in operation. Many leases are based on 5 year increments, and the 6 year phase in would give most small business owners the ability to sell, gracefully bow out, etc if they could not make ends meet with the new wage increases.

Many small business owners pour there life savings into there businesses, for many its a labour of love, and providing people the time to potentially get out, without loosing everything seems only fair.

I think there is a way to get there that both protects small business, and offers relief to income inequality. It would be nice if the conversation was a little less polarized, but I honestly don't think that's possible on these stranger message boards. Onward and upward!
More...
Posted by swakinc on February 25, 2014 at 9:36 AM · Report this
98
RE: TOM DOUGLAS...........Some of you are confused as to how he is implementing $15.

Here are direct quotes from him, in which he states smaller businesses may not be able to handle even the 25% increase in from $12 to $15 he put into place. Even The great Tom is not going $15 across. His raises apply only to back of house.

“I’ve got some crazy business ideas, but I’m just not for government intervention in that way,” Douglas told me the other day. “A lot of businesses that are only starting out couldn’t handle that.”

As usual, though, he’s got a crazy idea of his own. Maybe a better one.

Starting this pay period, Douglas is raising the minimum wage for cooks and bakers in the kitchens of his 16 local restaurants to, coincidentally, $15 an hour. Previously a cook started at around $12 an hour — so this is a 25 percent boost in the kitchen base pay scale, overnight.

He’s also raising the minimum wage for dishwashers from $10 per hour to $12 — a 20 percent increase.

He calls it his “Cooks and Chefs Minimum Wage Initiative.” It will cost, he projects, $1.3 million in its first year. (He’s not raising wages for waiters, who get paid primarily in tips.)
Posted by swakinc on February 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM · Report this
99
@40 Actually we DON'T have the worst infrastructure out there. We actually have the best. It just doesn't get used. There is a LOT of unused fiber optic cable already in place in the US that is not, and probably never will be, used. AT&T, MCI Worldcomm and Sprint were required by the US government to lay fiber optics nationwide which they did. No one required them to terminate the cables and use them. So they didn't and don't. You can run a LOT of miles of copper for the cost of a termination box (for that matter you can run a lot of miles of fiber for that cost) so it was cheaper for them to put the mandatory fiber in the ground and then go on using copper. Makes you wonder if Google decides who gets Google internet based on where they can acquire usage rights / outright purchase some of this old fiber network. It would make a lot of sense that way.
Posted by Romial on February 25, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
auntie jim 100
So another restaurant selling animal flesh folds. boo fucking hoo. The reason little Mr. self styled liberal do gooder hates the minimum wage is that it will cost him power and money. Don't fall for the misleading claims about prices.
Posted by auntie jim http://www.gaysnohomish.org on February 27, 2014 at 6:31 AM · Report this

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