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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Restaurateurs Had a Minimum-Wage Lunch Chat at City Hall Yesterday, and the Crowd Raged

Posted by on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM


Yesterday, a group of restaurateurs met at City Hall to present to much of the city council their fears about a $15 minimum wage raise. Four restaurant owners, in what was meant to be a simple lunchtime info session, presented a lot of their businesses' current financial information, and then said what they thought the impacts of an immediate jump to a $15 an hour wage would be on their business. Here's a few of the things they said:

• Angela Stowell of Ethan Stowell restaurants said they'd consider raising prices around 25 percent, meaning their average ticket of $94 would go up to $117, and they'd likely cut their $100,000 in annual charitable giving.
Scott France Matt Galvin of Pagliacci Pizza said they'd potentially raise prices 10–15 percent, add delivery fees of a few dollars, and consider eliminating the tip line from their receipts so diners wouldn't feel obligated to pay extra on top of higher prices.
• Taylor Hoang of Phõ Cyclo said they'd likely have to lay off staff and hire more experienced staff in the future instead of the less experienced mostly immigrant staff they've been hiring.
• Bret Stewart of Auntie Anne's pretzels said there wasn't much he could do to change the predetermined business model of his franchise restaurants, but he would have to reanalyze his staffing models.

You can find copies of all of their presentations as links at the meeting agenda here, and I've embedded a video of the meeting above if you have almost two hours to kill.

But they were all answering a version of the question "What would happen specifically to your business if minimum wage raised to $15 immediately?"

Which is odd, because that's not a policy that's really being debated.

I guess if they all considered themselves "big businesses" they could argue that they're facing a potential fast wage raise, since Council Member Kshama Sawant hasn't said what she believes the cutoff should be in her proposal that big businesses pay $15 in January, 2015, while smaller businesses and nonprofits get a three-year phase-in. But whenever she's talked about "big business," she talks about enormous national and international brands like McDonald's and Target—people who are never gonna show up to that little table in council chamber. (Sure, they might be part of lobbying organizations that are helping small businesses be the face of opposition to the $15 wage, but they're not gonna show their own corporate faces.) So the most radical bargaining position right now has already compromised on a phase-in.

These business owners pretty much all agreed that the minimum wage proposal they'd prefer would include (1) total compensation (2) a phase-in and (3) youth or training wages. Which is fine, that's their position, and they were friendly and joking and silly, even as Council Member Sawant came off as a bit severe. But the crowd at the lunchtime forum was heavily weighted in the restaurant owners' favor—which ended up veering into a bit of ugliness. By the end of the meeting, audience members were heckling Sawant; at one point a group of about half dozen got up and stormed out of the council chamber.

Pete Hanning, who among other pursuits owns the Red Door in Fremont, was one of the people who stepped out, though he didn't storm off. He told me he just needed to "cool down for a second" after listening to Sawant, saying that she was being "preachy" instead of listening and was ignoring the complexity of the minimum-wage argument. "A higher minimum wage, for sure, is a goal," he said. "Income inequality is something we need to address." But he finds the current debate frustrating, calling 15 Now "shrill kids throwing a tantrum in the corner." He says he'd rather see the state address the minimum wage than the city, and says that an overhaul of the tax system, including an income tax, is a better way to address income inequality.

He wasn't alone; lots of people were yelling from the audience and cheering the best lines from the restaurateurs. When Stewart from Annie's described the job of his pretzel makers and then said, "I'm just not sure that's a $30,000 a year job," the room was a chorus of cheers. What he was saying was clear: He genuinely doesn't believe that some of his employees deserve a $15 wage. Which, for god's sake, is at least honest, instead of all this concern-trolling about the disappearance of tips. That's a position that some people hold, and if that's where they're coming from, please just say it out loud.

But the anti–15 Now crowd's growing frustration was really interesting. At the table were a host of council members, only one of which they seemed to have a problem with. The only speakers were four restaurant owners who all wholeheartedly agreed on a basic platform of how the business side sees the potential minimum-wage raise. The presentation went so long that the public comment portion, which would've included at least a couple low-wage workers who signed up to testify, got canceled. So in a chamber filled with people on their side, the one person with a microphone who they disagreed with sent the room into a tizzy.

It was surely indicative of the hair-trigger emotions this issue is launching all over the city. And it's sure as hell not the most productive way to go.

(I live-tweeted the meeting yesterday from just after noon to just before 2 p.m., if you like that sort of thing.)

 

Comments (67) RSS

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1
"These business owners pretty much all agreed that the minimum wage proposal they'd prefer would include (1) total compensation (2) a phase-in and (3) youth or training wages. Which is fine, that's their position, and they were friendly and joking and silly, even as Council Member Sawant came off as a bit severe. But the crowd at the lunchtime forum was heavily weighted in the restaurant owners' favor—which ended up veering into a bit of ugliness. By the end of the meeting, audience members were heckling Sawant; at one point a group of about half dozen got up and stormed out of the council chamber."

This paragraph is in there twice.
Posted by If the shoe fits on April 10, 2014 at 1:28 PM · Report this
2
How did Sawant come off as "a bit severe" for being the only one to put this debate where it belongs - on workers who are in poverty? The whole hearing reminded me a *lot* of the Congressional town halls in the summer of 2009, where teabaggers showed up to yell and scream about Obamacare. They had their facts wrong, but instead took the approach of trying to shout down and bully people trying to help low-income folks escape poverty.

That's what I saw at yesterday's hearing: bullying. Bullying of Sawant, bullying of workers. These businesses do not want to pay a $15 wage and are looking for any option they can find to get out of it. We cannot let them succeed.
Posted by junipero on April 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
3
" Scott France of Pagliacci Pizza said they'd potentially raise prices 10–15 percent, add delivery fees of a few dollars, and consider eliminating the tip line from their receipts so diners wouldn't feel obligated to pay extra on top of higher prices."

If they do this I'm never going there again. And I really like their pizza.
Posted by ryanmm on April 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
4
• Angela Stowell of Ethan Stowell restaurants said they'd consider raising prices around 25 percent, meaning their average ticket of $94 would go up to $117, and they'd likely cut their $100,000 in annual charitable giving.

I like the former - it'd be nice to know what it costs for me to eat in a nice restaurant. Right now it's a price to eat and be in a space + a price for someone to help me.

The latter seems like straight-up hostage taking.
Posted by Foonken2 on April 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 5
Beautiful. Keep it up, guys. This is just what we need.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
6
Having seen the rather horrible way Sawant treats people I am not at all surprised.

I have never regretted a vote more in my life and won't be making that mistake twice.
Posted by giffy on April 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
7
I would really like to the Slog and the Stranger take a good look at how a $15 minimum wage would affect franchise businesses (which are a huge chunk minimum wage paying businesses). Most franchisees are locked into staffing and pricing and are either losing money or making tiny profits (the franchisors are of course doing fine). Unlike an independent business owner the franchisees can't just close shop without losing their entire investment and having to pay "lost royalties" to the franchisor which can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Franchisees are usually required to personally guarantee their business obligations so it would lead to personal bankruptcy too.
Posted by Dernin29 on April 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM · Report this
8
DO NOT RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE. THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OUTWEIGH THE PRO'S. THE SERVICE INDUSTRY THRIVES FROM A FOOD AND DRINK CITY, AND WITH THESE CHANGES, MANY PEOPLE WILL LOSE THEIR JOBS AND BUSINESSES.
Posted by stopmakingstupidchanges on April 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
pg13 9
It took a pretzel maker to bring up the issue that we're all skirting around.

You can frame the question like this:
Is every job worth paying a living wage for?
OR like this
Isn't every worker deserving of a living wage?

And the bigger issue that is highlighted by this debate is that the nature of our economy has changed...and the options, when it comes to work, aren't what they were.

Our world was based around building things in factories, digging things out of mines, cultivating things in the fields, constructing things, etc...and, thanks to unions, those jobs became stable...with benefits and pensions. Those jobs provided a living wage.

...and those jobs just aren't there any more.

There were other jobs...jobs you had for a little while, jobs you took to supplement the family income, jobs to get you into the work force. Those jobs were never really meant to provide you with a living wage...

...but now, those are the type of jobs we have left.

So, we're in the position of asking people "What do you do for a living? and having the answer be "I make pretzels."

If pretzel making is the only job available, it would seem to some that we would need to force pretzel businesses to pay pretzel makers a "livable wage"--taking the question out of the hands of the so-called "market". The market would say that if businesses need people to do jobs, they would have to find a compensation rate that lures workers into being willing to do the job for that rate. That's the way it used to work...but now, if there are no better job options, then the workers will take whatever job they can find for whatever pay is being offered.

It's less that the employers are being inequitable but the job market is limited--and may never return to the way it was when our economic expectations were set.

One would like to make an argument that people get paid what they're worth--but we know that the pay of CEO's of major corporations are getting compensated at insane rates.

It is possible that the only reason we're debating a new minimum wage is because it is impossible to legislate a maximum wage.
More...
Posted by pg13 on April 10, 2014 at 2:11 PM · Report this
yelahneb 10
"Furthermore, I'd of course need to cut my own salary down to $15," said no restaurant owner ever.
Posted by yelahneb http://www.strangebutharmless.com on April 10, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 11
"Scott France of Pagliacci Pizza said they'd potentially raise prices 10–15 percent, add delivery fees of a few dollars, and consider eliminating the tip line from their receipts so diners wouldn't feel obligated to pay extra on top of higher prices."

Ok, whatever to the price increase, but I don't want Pagliacci's (or any business, for that matter) to decide for me whether I feel "obligated" to do anything. They're restaurants, not financial managers.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on April 10, 2014 at 2:15 PM · Report this
DOUG. 12
Nice reporting, Anna. But you should've titled this post "Pretzel Logic."
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on April 10, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
seattlestew 13
"• Angela Stowell of Ethan Stowell restaurants said they'd consider raising prices around 25 percent, meaning their average ticket of $94 would go up to $117, and they'd likely cut their $100,000 in annual charitable giving."

This is not how markets find equilibrium. I'm sure that $23 per ticket price increase presumes fixed competition and the same profit margin Ethan Stowell restaurants now enjoy. Consumers are rarely so accommodating in accepting price increases. Best of luck, Ms. Stowell.
Posted by seattlestew on April 10, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 14
I loved how when Ms. Hoang spoke about her mother, a 60 year old woman who owns a little pho' shop and works seven days a week there to send money to her family in Vietnam broke down in tears at the thought of a wage increase that would force her to postpone retirement AGAIN. What did the handful of Red Shirts in the room do? Snicker and jeer.

Thank you, 15Now, for showing your true anti-immigrant colors.

At least the KKK admits upfront they're racist. The white hipsters of 15Now hide their bigotry behind progressive sentiment.

And I might add that Sawant should look long and hard at how many people are doing everything they can to get out of Vietnam, a SOCIALIST country...
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 10, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
seattlestew 15
"• Scott France of Pagliacci Pizza said they'd potentially raise prices 10–15 percent, add delivery fees of a few dollars, and consider eliminating the tip line from their receipts so diners wouldn't feel obligated to pay extra on top of higher prices."

Then I would stop ordering your pizzas, Mr. France. (Not because the price increase would be too much to bear, but because Pagliacci would be spiteful assholes for removing the tip line.) Reminds me of how Cherry Street Coffee House posted a sign claiming customers were being assessed a "surcharge" (i.e., penalty/punishment) of 1.5% because the City passed a mandatory sick leave law.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…

Be careful what you say in public, restauranteurs. We patronize you not only because we like your products and services, but also because we expect you to be good members of the community who treat their employees right and don't condescend to their customers.
Posted by seattlestew on April 10, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
seattlestew 16
"• Taylor Hoang of Phõ Cyclo said they'd likely have to lay off staff and hire more experienced staff in the future instead of the less experienced mostly immigrant staff they've been hiring."

This presumes you can find "more experienced staff" in the future. It also would imply that if your staff are not worth minimum wage in the future, then you don't think they are now. It also ignores your hard-to-calculate costs of retraining and replacing current staff. IT also makes you sound like you don't care about your current staff. It also implies you don't think immigrant workers are worth minimum wage and that you don't value them as much as "more experienced" (non-ethnic?) workers. Basically, it makes you sound like a jerk.
Posted by seattlestew on April 10, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
seattlestew 17
"• Bret Stewart of Auntie Anne's pretzels said there wasn't much he could do to change the predetermined business model of his franchise restaurants, but he would have to reanalyze his staffing models."

You sound like a dynamic businessperson, Mr. Stewart. Doubtless you will thrive for years to come.
Posted by seattlestew on April 10, 2014 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Aaron 18
Taylor Hoang's specific examples begin at the 76 minute mark and run about 20 minutes, and are well worth the time to hear. Council Member Sawant's speechifying and polemics that follow in the guise of a supposed question on the other hand are stultifying and never results in a question. She just "informs" us dubious of examples for six minutes, and makes it clear that this about cementing political power and not social justice.
Posted by Aaron on April 10, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
seattlestew 19
"[Pete Hanning, who among other pursuits owns the Red Door in Fremont] says that an overhaul of the tax system, including an income tax, is a better way to address income inequality."

In what sense, Mr. Hanning? If there is an outright cash redistribution, perhaps. But that also presumes an income tax is politically feasible. So can we expect you to be a champion if that topic comes up? I presume that regardless of whether you would personally stand to benefit or pay more, you'd still support it. Right?
Posted by seattlestew on April 10, 2014 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 20
Did a single restaurant owner say they'd take a cut in pay or take a smaller portion of their profits to provide their employees a living wage?

Yeah, that's what I thought.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM · Report this
21
@18 sounds to me like you just want Councilmembers to agree with you completely on everything, and are both offended and threatened when they dare hold a different opinion and perspective.
Posted by junipero on April 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM · Report this
22
That was Matt Galvin from Pagliacci Pizza not Scott France.

And Council member Sawant has, indeed, floated her definition of small business as 10 employees or less. So, yes, all four folks at the table would be identified "big business."
Posted by M. Wells on April 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Report this
meanie 23
@10 &@20 I love this response. Are you going to tell your employer you commented on slog today, or didn't work a full 100% so your going to give up party of your pay?

When someone does a really good job making your coffee do you remind yourself to give them a 500% tip because you make too much money?
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on April 10, 2014 at 3:00 PM · Report this
guerre 24
What I want to know: where do these businesses stand on $11/hr on January 1? How many of these businesses/owners gave to the failed effort to implement an income tax?
Posted by guerre on April 10, 2014 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Aaron 25
@21 Ah, no. But I don't find Sawant compelling at all. I don't think she has any practical experience in the matters on which she pontificates (and pontificates and pontificates). There are plenty of council members and other political leaders I disagree with and yet still respect. Sawant not so much.
Posted by Aaron on April 10, 2014 at 3:18 PM · Report this
26
So, they'll get rid of their charitable contributions in exchange for supporting higher wages? Okay. Higher wages will probably do more good than a tax deduction.
Posted by unpaid reader on April 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
27
Taylor Hoang and her mother - American heroes. Fuck the Sawantanistas.
Posted by I'm eating at Pho Cyclo on April 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
28
"Thank you, 15Now, for showing your true anti-immigrant colors. "

Did you see the last March? 95% white kids with college degrees.
Posted by $15Now = white privilege on April 10, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
guerre 29
@25 She doesn't know what it's like to earn low wages? She doesn't know what it's like to be a woman, pay rent, or be a person of color? She studied less economics than average? Or are you saying that she has never run a business? Because I have strong feelings on climate change, healthcare, and the death penalty, but I've never run an oil or insurance company, and I've definitely never killed a person. I guess I could never enter politics, hell why should I get to vote on these issues.

Do you have a quote of hers that is an example of her egregiously pontificating? I can understand if you don't want to do work for a rando on the internet, It's just when she speaks I find her bold, honest, and refreshing.

Also I don't think you get a gold star for respecting someone you disagree with- most consider that normal.
Posted by guerre on April 10, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 30
I love the passive-aggressive manipulation of holding your charitable contributions hostage. So Seattle.

Next level: "Here is a picture of my dog, Chakra. He's a chow-greyhound we rescued from PAWS. As you can see, he only has 3 legs, and we love him very much. Especially my two kids, Sophie and Aiden. I spend $1200 per year on dog food, but if $15 per hour passes, you will force me to let him starve. Let it be on your head. Hey, how 'bout those Mariners?"
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 10, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Call me Scott 31
Examples of the concessions we resisted:

1. We concede to opponents of our position and while we indeed grant freedom to the slaves, we recognize that black persons are unsuitable and incapable of being responsible landowners, so the ownership of land will remain the exclusive province of white Americans of European descent.

2. Though it is clear that women should have a voice in the affairs of our communities, it remains the privilege of wise men to direct the affairs of state. Therefore, we declare that national elections will be decided by male voters alone while in municipal, county and state elections, women and men will both have the right to vote.

3. Persons choosing partners of the same gender will have all the rights of hetero-sexual couples under the law, but their union will be defined legally as domestic partners. Marriage will continue to solely define heterosexual union.

Standing strong is the only thing that gives us what we have.

15 Now. Stand strong.
Posted by Call me Scott on April 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
32
The Mumbling Mumbaiian made an ass of herself.
Posted by Sugartit on April 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
33
I love how Sawant, the privileged child of Indian Brahmins who came as an fluent english speaking PDH candidate and wife of a Microsoft executive claims she knows what it's like a dishwasher at a Vietnamese pho restaurant.
Posted by Sugartit on April 10, 2014 at 3:58 PM · Report this
34
These so-called restaurateurs think they are god's gift to Seattle. Don't cross us or we'll raise prices! Don't cross us or we'll stop our charitable giving! From my perspective they are whiny little bitches; I'm not sure the city wouldn't be better off if a city minimum wage did force them to close. Look: if I'm willing to pay $$$ for hyper-local mega-organic free range ingredients, I'm also willing to pay to be served by somebody that makes $15/hr before tips. I would rather eat conventionally grown food than participate in an economic system that rewards jackasses who resent their workers too much to pay them decently.
Posted by Micah on April 10, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 35
Do any of the commenters currently patronize businesses that pay less than $15 per hour? And if so, why?
Posted by kk in seattle on April 10, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
36
@35: The whole point of raising the minimum wage is so we don't have to patronize such businesses. If we still want to patronize such businesses, we can always drive down to Renton.
Posted by Micah on April 10, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
pg13 37
I'm sure I patronize plenty of businesses that pay less than $15 per hour.

As to why...it's the same reason as any purchasing decision. They offer something I want at a price I find reasonable to pay.

I don't carry around a checklist with criteria for me to confirm before I decide to patronize a business.
Posted by pg13 on April 10, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
38
@ 14 funny thing. The KKK does not admit to being racist. They say they are pro-white, not anti-black (or fill in the blank). Right-wingers are masters at double-speak. Progressives are racists! Being pro-livable wage for everyone means you are anti-immigrant! Huh? No wonder it is so hard to have a rational conversation with a right-winger, they just spout nonsense and don't care if it makes any sense at all. Even when their blather and dishonesty is pointed out, they'll either keep repeating it (the big lie) or they'll just move on to the next blather and dishonesty.
Posted by screed on April 10, 2014 at 4:17 PM · Report this
Aaron 39
@29 On running an independent services oriented business. And no, that doesn't mean 10 employees or less. I was responding to "offended and threatened" - I am neither. I just don't care for the snake oil Sawant is selling. Go find your own quote, you can start around the 97 minute mark in the video linked above. She is given the floor for a question, then proceeded to hammer her points. Disrespectful at best. Note that she contradicts herself in saying that these are small businesses, but as employers of more than 10 employees, they don't qualify under the criteria proposed, as noted @22 above.
Posted by Aaron on April 10, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this
guerre 40
@39 The bar will be 249 employees, word of god. Her *personal* view is 10, but since many companies people consider small businesses are larger, she will be going for the same cap as the sick paid leave act, though only with one tier (249 and down) as opposed to the 3 tiers(1-9, 10-49, 49- 249) of the sick paid leave act.
Posted by guerre on April 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 41
@35,

Because I need to buy stuff? Please provide a list of retailers/restaurants that pay more than $15/hour if you think your question is anything other than a fucking joke.

Also, FYI, I favor unionized grocery stores or at least grocery stores that treat their employees fairly well, I never shop at Wal-Mart, I never buy from Amazon (the Wal-Mart of the Internet), and I'm increasingly avoiding the worst of the worst of apparel companies. Feel better?
Posted by keshmeshi on April 10, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
guerre 42
@41 Are you saying you don't carry an itemized list of all commercial outlets, their wage policies, and the wage policy of their suppliers?
Posted by guerre on April 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
43
Really? Raising the minimum wage to $15 immediately is "not really being debated"?

Not sure what else "15 Now" could mean.
Posted by bigyaz on April 10, 2014 at 6:15 PM · Report this
44
Should I be the only one to point out that Pho shops mostly thrive because of their affordability and are precisely the kind of business that is likely to see a raise in overall sales when people who currently eat a cheap restaurant meal once or twice a month can now afford up to five bowls of Pho a month?

"How do we do it? how do we do it? Volume, Volume turn up the Volume...."

BTW, there's a comment form on the Pagliacci site. Do what you must.

Posted by BornAgainInBellevue on April 10, 2014 at 6:39 PM · Report this
45
"Angela Stowell of Ethan Stowell restaurants said they'd consider raising prices around 25 percent, meaning their average ticket of $94 would go up to $117"

I suspect that the type of person who can afford an average ticket of $94 won't blink at an average ticket of $117.

Is Taylor Hoang providing a training in a marketable skill? Meaning, if I spend 5 years washing dishes at Pho Cyclo, will I then be able to get a better job elsewhere? No, probably not. Taylor is going to continue to hire the same rubes he(she?) has always hired.

I think that Bret Stewart's salary should be capped, at let's say, 50 times the salary of his lowest paid worker. Or is he really worth more than 50 times the guy that "makes pretzels"?

I've never been to Pagliacci's Pizza - with that sort of punitive attitude, I certainly never will. And I probably would never have noticed the 10-15% price increase or the delivery fee.
Posted by randoma on April 10, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 46
In case you missed it, please read Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's 7 reasons we should
raise the minimum wage — to $15 an hour
.

Reich isn't just talking about tony, hipster Seattle. He's talking about raising the Federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on April 10, 2014 at 7:15 PM · Report this
47
Nothing more entertaining than watching spoiled Indian Brahmin turned Trotskyite lecturing folks who fled communist about the evils of capitalism.
Posted by Sugartit on April 10, 2014 at 7:57 PM · Report this
48
@25, you say "I don't think she has any practical experience in the matters on which she pontificates."

But after basically no time in office, she raised and is pursuing, with the rest of the Council, the issue that's got everyone in Seattle thinking. So I'd say she's already got quite a bit of practical experience in what she was actually elected to do: consider issues that affect the people of Seattle. Can you think of ANYTHING her predecessor did that showed his practical experience? No, didn't think so.
Posted by sarah70 on April 10, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
49
Republicans love this( Ben Shapiro vs Kshama Sawant).. Progressives attacking each other is a ruse for them. They would love to see this pass in Seattle and watch business crash and burn or minorities suffer so that they can trumpet the failure all over fox news. If we want to raise people out of poverty without forcing discrimination & business owners to fail there is a way.

1. Raise MW every year over 6-7 years(no carveouts or total compensation) "Phase in"
2. Increase Earned Income Tax credit for the poor is increased
3. Training wage for any age 6 months
4. Cut B&O Taxes on Small Business's to help with increase in labor
5. Income Tax of 3% for Any one making over 1,000,000 per year incentivizing business owners to invest more into Capex( Labor & Equipment and expansion that creates more jobs!!!_
Posted by A real live employer on April 10, 2014 at 8:10 PM · Report this
threnody 50
@20 "Did a single restaurant owner say they'd take a cut in pay or take a smaller portion of their profits to provide their employees a living wage?"

It's interesting you should ask that, if you watched the actual video you would see that profit went negative into the five figures (!) for several scenarios. Seemed to me like they were talking about cutting charity and perks AFTER they've already been reduced to zero income for the foreseeable future. So, yes. The evil overlords will not be getting paid a penny if forced to $15. They'll be going deeply into debt or closing. Success, you guys!

Profits = owner pay if there is anything left after debt repayment. These presenters are the big established companies, and even many of them made ZERO dollars per hour for the first several years in business. This is normal for restaurants. Eventually they might become successful and the owners can pay themselves minimum wage or more just to run it (not working shifts too), but statistically more often, they do not and owners leave the situation in debt and the struggling proletariat hop to another $28/hr tipped job. Is it a stupid business to get into? Yes. No argument there. But that still doesn't mean tipped workers are making poverty wages in this city. They are not.

Piecora's selling for $10M is not the way most restaurants fail. They sold the building, not the business. The vast majority of restaurant owners do not own the real estate. They have rent payments and bills just like you. If they go out of business, they are on the hook for those rent payments for however many years are left on their restaurant lease.

@45 "Is Taylor Hoang providing a training in a marketable skill?"

Watch the video again. She is teaching her staff how to SPEAK ENGLISH and get around town, in addition to washing dishes. So yeah, that probably comes in handy. I don't know.

I am not surprised to hear a ripple of heckling in the room when Sawant is essentially saying "I'm promising people money of yours that you don't have, join me in my fight against the big businesses!"

I've been talking to small businesses of all types every day for weeks now, and they would all love to fight Big Business. But you haven't offered them anything but a massive cost increase and character assassination. Meinert suggested a Big Business raise to $15 now a few days ago and got crucified because it was self-serving. So? It also served the supposed goal of all the fervent activism...so why did no one even consider it? Just to spite Meinert? That's pretty sick.
More...
Posted by threnody on April 10, 2014 at 9:33 PM · Report this
51
@45 "And I probably would never have noticed the 10-15% price increase or the delivery fee."

Hell, if they had a fee like that to guarantee their delivery folks weren't paying for their own fucking gas, I'd be more than happy to do that. The fact these fuckers would threaten giving up tips to the pizza delivery boy is astonishing. Not just do they regularly pay for the fucking gas to deliver, they have one of the highest risk jobs there are.

Fuck that business.

@49

Yes.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on April 10, 2014 at 11:14 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 52
@38
First, I am a leftist. I am a libertarian-leftist in the tradition of Lysander Spooner (the man in my profile pic) Karl Hess and Gustave Molinari. I am a pot-smoking brown skinned bisexual Zen Buddhist...I'm not exactly a Sarah Palin fan.

Second, "living wage" is an absurd concept. What the hell does that mean? There is no one wage that is a "living wage." A single mom with three kids can't live on 15/hour, while a single person living with roommates can easily get by in Seattle on 12/hour.

Third, it is anti-immigrant because immigrant businesses would be effected more than big businesses run by white males. As the article and I said (but you ignored) a Vietnamese American woman talked about how bad this would be for the immigrant community.

And yes, MW has been used historically as a tool to enforce white supremacy. Here comes the thing that is to Red Shirts what crosses are to vampires: FACTS
http://nypost.com/2013/09/17/why-racists…

In other words, you've proven that the 15Now cult cannot be reasoned with and cannot be counted on to actually read what is written before they open their white-privileged mouths and treat us all to Marxist rhetoric accompanied by the smell of Pabst Blue Ribbon on their breath.

Please keep talking. The more talking you and the Red Shirts do the more people are turned off to raising the MW.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 11, 2014 at 12:06 AM · Report this
53
@51, the scary thing is that Pagliaccis already sells those pizzas for $24 for a large. $2.40-$3.60 more and a delivery fee is a pretty significant jump.

But, hey, if you want a correlation to what a higher base wage at restaurants does:

http://www.restaurantbusinessonline.com/…
In Washington, where the minimum wage is $9.32, a typical restaurant has three fewer employees than the national average, according to the state restaurant association.

but, hey, maybe that's just because all the people who work in WA are above average productivity.
Posted by ChefJoe on April 11, 2014 at 12:07 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 54
@50

Awesome. You said it.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 11, 2014 at 12:40 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 55
@45

If you bothered to watch the video, you would see that while working at the restaurant her workers learn a bit of English, learn reading and writing as many of them can't even read or write in their native language, and learn about life in their new country in general.

Also, anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant will tell you most line cooks start off as dishwashers. They go from dish to prep, from prep to line cook.

And as for prices effecting business, you need only look at Vancouver WA and Portland Or: hardly no one who lives in Vancouver shops or goes out to eat there. Why? Portland has no sales tax, so they go there and save 6%. If people are willing to go across a bridge and save 6%, what's to stop them from going across a bridge to save 20%?

And as for pizza delivery, that is simple: why would someone in North Seattle order delivery from a Seattle based pizzeria, when they can get the same pizza from a pizzeria in Shoreline and save 20%? If this passes (and it won't) there will be a row of delivery restaurants in Shoreline one block away from Seattle and the same thing in Burien.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 11, 2014 at 12:47 AM · Report this
56
I love the implication many of these restaurant owners make that, in absence of a minimum wage, the prices charged to customers will never ever EVER go up.

I challenge all anti-15ers to make a solemn pledge to never raise their prices if 15min passes.

Are those crickets? Yeah, kind of what I thought.

If this, and Prop 1, fail, Seattle might as well rename itself 'Lil Alabama' and raise the Stars and Bars over the Space Needle.
Posted by AgentofChaos on April 11, 2014 at 4:12 AM · Report this
kk in seattle 57
@41 (and others) Because you need to buy stuff? That's kind of a joke of an answer. You don't need to buy factory-farmed meat, so you don't. You don't need to buy tobacco, so you don't. You don't need to buy lots of plastic crap made in sweatshops and shipped across the ocean, so you don't.

How hard is it to ask, when you go into a restaurant, hey, does everybody here make $15 an hour? No? Thanks, I'll take my business elsewhere. There are a lot of comments on here about, well, if Pagliacci does this or that, I'll stop eating their pizza. Well, you can stop eating it today.

People in countries with a high minimum wage don't eat out much. People in countries with a low minimum wage have a lot more maids and gardeners. But in a country with a low minimum wage, you're never forced to to pay a maid and a gardener a minimum wage if you view it as immoral.

If it's immoral for these businesses to force their workers into poverty, then it's immoral for you to patronize them. Pull the plug on them, just like you can pull the plug on factory-farmed meat and buy local and organic instead.

Go ahead and advocate for a higher minimum wage, but don't pretend that you're forced to support these businesses who oppose it.

Print up some 15 Now stickers and give them to the restaurants that comply now and that you want to support.
Posted by kk in seattle on April 11, 2014 at 4:39 AM · Report this
Nick CapHill 58
Annies Pretzles basically said that their business model relies on youth, and people wanting to supplement their income part time, college students, etc. Basically, entry-level skill learners. Without coming right out and saying it, I understood the Pretzel guy to suggest that if Seattle passes a $15 hr, even a phase in, it would drive their business model out of town.

And here is the million dollar question: To help out a small fraction of the workforce by raising the minimum wage, should we allow for other parts of the workforce to be unemployed, or limited to going to the outskirts like Bothell or Tacoma for an entry-level job? Do we allow for people wanting to build their skills be unemployed in Seattle?

Why should government even interject themselves into a employer and an employee decision? What right is it to say if anyone should accept a job at an agreed upon price? The only act of aggression here is one by government telling employers - no matter what business model you are - that you can not give a job to an employee at a certain wage. And aggression toward an employee to accept a job at a rate they agree to.

NO. I dont buy it. Too many factors. 15now is just a slick way for unions to stop competing with entry-level wages at the expense of building skills.
Posted by Nick CapHill http://thestranger.com on April 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
59
Does anyone else find it problematic that we taxpayers subsidize the bottom lines of poverty wage paying companies? Every time time one of their employees requires any kind of social service it costs us all. How about a balanced a carrot and stick approach; if $15p/h is the carrot, then the stick should be any time a poverty wage paying company's employees uses a taxpayer funded social service, then that agency gets to bill them. There, solves the problem.

We all require the food, clothing and shelter basics. The employees experience the same high cost of living that their employers do. If your business model requires my taxes for you to make it, then your business model is a net drain on your own community and needs to change. If wages don't cover their needs, then why should the taxpayer have to foot the difference to benefit the company? I sympathize with the small business owners, I truly do. But they don't get to have it both ways - a person either gets paid enough to live on or we as a society make up the difference with the social safety net. The anti- $15 p/h business owners I'm sure are all happy to pay the higher taxes that are increasingly needed while many people find they need assistance even working full time... Yet that's not I hear from small business when taxes come up. Someone upthread is right in that these small businesses need to lobby lout and hard for a flat income tax that replaces sales and B&O taxes if they're rhetoric is to hold any water.

All this angry hyperbole doesn't solve shit, people. This change is about determining as a community how we value our neighbors. I keep hearing how many small business owners value their employees, how they really, really do. These same small businesses also seem to loathe the high taxes they have to pay. You only get to pick one. If you want both move your business to Bangladesh or Guatemala. If you value your employees then you pay them enough so they don't need to beg from their neighbors (use the social safety net) to make ends meet. We could always just allow all local, city and state municipalities, tax funded social service nonprofits and the Social Security Administration to directly invoice sub-$15p/h businesses whenever their employees needed any kind of assistance. I think they'll find the the $15 the lessor of the two.

Oh, and the whole count the tips as part of the $15? FUCK THE HELL OFF. Tips are a direct contract between the server and customer and have fuck-all to do with the employer. I judge my tip based on service received. If tipping industry business owners want to count tips as part of their employees total compensation, then THEY first need to post them as income to the restaurant and include them in THEIR taxed bottom line. Otherwise it simply shafts the employees out of payroll taxes while they gain a back door tax subsidy. Again, you don't get to have it both ways. Review your internal rhetoric carefully business owners; we are listening very, very closely. Are you members of our community, or parasites w/in it? To the general public, please vote with your feet.

Loving all the unregistered anti-Sawant troll hate. There's never been a clearer way to demonstrate the validity of ones righteous arguments then by anonymously posting vitriolic personal attacks against someone who works to look out for the needs of ALL Seattlites. She's walking the walk - whether I agree with her or not I respect that she's actually living her beliefs. Whereas anonymous slander trolls? World's largest cowards-LMFAO. She should take heart from that kind of feedback, means she's on to something...
More...
Posted by 2flyingmonkeys on April 11, 2014 at 5:15 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 60
@59
The reason low wage workers need social services is because they are in low wage jobs that were NEVER meant to support a family. If you start work at McDonald's it is going to be enough to raise a family with you don't need more minimum wage, you need more MINIMUM SENSE.

Are people stuck in low wage jobs? Yes. Why? Is it because of lack of career track jobs? It is. So let's solve that problem instead of passing a feel good legislation that artificially raises wages beyond what an employer can pay while still making a profit.

And as for tips, as has been said, over and over again, the IRS taxes tips, hence they count as income. Want to helped tipped workers? Stop taxing tips. Wage theft does happen...and the biggest thief of wages is the IRS.

Oh, and Sawant is the single most hated person in Seattle right now, by all kinds of people. She didn't even win the working class neighborhoods of White Center, Northgate or Highland Park and she won by less that 2% of the vote.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 11, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 61
@56
First, no one said prices don't go up based on a variety of factors. They just said all whole sale prices in the city will go up if the MW goes up (i.e, inflation)

Second, I have yet to hear any of the unions or groups endorsing 15Now say they will never have a single person work for them that isn't paid at least 15/hour. Will they say "no more volunteers! We will pay everyone 15/hour to pass out flyers and canvas for us!"
Will they agree to that?

*crickets*

And if Seattle says no to a racist, anti-immigrants MW law, (and they will) we may as well call Seattle lil' Sweden. After all, Sweden doesn't even have an MW and yet it has very little poverty.

Man, I love Pwning reds!
Posted by collectivism_sucks on April 11, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
62
Angela Stowell of Ethan Stowell restaurants said they'd consider raising prices around 25 percent, meaning their average ticket of $94 would go up to $117, and they'd likely cut their $100,000 in annual charitable giving.

So, basically what you're saying is that your employees have to help cover the costs of your charitable giving?
Posted by ignatz ratzkywatzky on April 12, 2014 at 12:25 AM · Report this
63
@22 your claim is false, Sawant has NOT put small biz limit at 10 employees. She hasn't put forward a concrete number but will very soon.

@43 15 Now and Kshama have proposed a 3 year phase in for small biz, stay tuned for the definition.
Posted by bogart14 on April 12, 2014 at 7:13 PM · Report this
emor 64
@58 "Why should government even interject themselves into a employer and an employee decision?"

There are so many reasons why government should interject itself into that relationship. The biggest one is that employers have all the power in that relationship, so talking about "agreeing to a certain wage" is disingenuous. There is always someone willing to work for less - always - and wages for much work would hit rock bottom without a legally mandated minimum. No matter what you think, a society where huge portions of the population are forced to work for starvation wages is not actually good for anyone.

The reason all these labor laws exist is because we tried not having them and the result was disastrous.
Posted by emor on April 13, 2014 at 7:54 AM · Report this
65
@33 & @39 Thank you for stating these clarifications. These were 100% my observations as well.

@52 You are great. All around.
Posted by Seattle91 on April 13, 2014 at 2:51 PM · Report this
fletc3her 66
Restaurant owners should do whatever they have to do to pay their employees a living wage. They should do this now, but given the asymmetric relationship between employer and employee the government has had to step in to the negotiations. If a restaurant owner can't make what they consider a sufficient profit paying a living wage then the market will provide a new restaurant with a workable business model in the same location.

Restaurants are the front line in this debate, but not the only businesses affected. Walmart, Fred Meyer, and Target will have to pay living wages. Safeway, QFC, and Albertsons will have to pay living wages. Call centers will have to pay living wages. Manufacturers will have to pay living wages. Government wil have to pay living wages.

The impact on the workforce will be enormous. If a couple restaurants have to close, so be it.
Posted by fletc3her on April 14, 2014 at 9:09 AM · Report this
fletc3her 67
@61 Umm, no, volunteers aren't paid. They are donating $15 an hour to the organization they are volunteering for.
Posted by fletc3her on April 14, 2014 at 9:12 AM · Report this

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