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Thursday, May 15, 2014

15 Now Starts Gathering Signatures for Ballot Measure, Aims for 20,000 in Two Weeks

Posted by on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 1:56 PM

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In the above photo, Starbucks barista Autumn Brown is inking one of the first signatures on 15 Now's petition for a November ballot initiative. If all goes as planned, those clipboards will have 20,000 names added to them in less than two weeks.

"I believe that with all the hard work and dedication and time and energy that I've put into this job, I deserve to have health insurance, go to school and educate myself, and to pay my rent at the same time. And I need that now—and not in 2025," Brown said after she signed up.

Why the rush to get 20,000 signatures so fast? The petitions (a minimum of 30,000 signatures) aren't due to the city clerk's office until mid-July to advance the ballot process. 15 Now activists said they're trying to exert pressure on the Seattle City Council, whose members are wrangling over how to raise the minimum wage as you read this and could be voting on Mayor Ed Murray's minimum wage proposal around the end of the month.

"The mayor's proposal is a step forward, but it falls short of what workers need by adding unnecessary delays of 3, 5, or even 10 years before getting up to an inflation adjusted $15," said Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, who added the first signature to the initiative. Casa Latina's Hilary Stern was the second signer. The plan raises wages to $15 per hour for all large businesses immediately and provides a three-year phase in for small businesses and nonprofits (defined as 250 employees or less, instead of 500).

"I'm putting forward amendments to the mayor's proposal to close these corporate loopholes," Sawant continued. "But if the majority of the city council sides with big business, we have the back-up option of letting the voters decide in November."

James Parker, a teacher and 15 Now supporter who within a half hour had gathered six signatures from passers-by, is confident they can hit the 20k mark. Canvassers will fan out at the UW Street Fair this weekend and Folk Life Festival next weekend, he told me.

As Anna reported, the latest polling on the minimum wage suggests a reservoir of public support for 15 Now's plan, one that was echoed in an informal poll of downtown pedestrians who stopped to see what the hubbub was all about. One man told me he works multiple part-time jobs and needs a raise, and he promptly signed the ballot initiative. Another, Roy Cottingham, was on lunch break at a nearby McDonald's. He said he's worked for low wages for years at the Bed Bath And Beyond down the block. He swiftly put down his order tray and signed, he said, because he struggles to earn enough to pay rent on his $850 single-room apartment in Magnolia.

MICHAEL DIXON The reality is even in the tech industry, wages are going down.
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  • MICHAEL DIXON "The reality is even in the tech industry, wages are going down."

Forty-year-old Michael Dixon, a software engineer with a UW computer science degree, had just come from a job interview nearby. He's been trying to make ends meet with intermittent contract work for Microsoft. But he's been "priced out" of Seattle he explained, recently moving from Upper Queen Anne to Burien, where rent is cheaper. "It's not a bad area," he said—but now he has to commute by bus into the city.

Dixon identifies as a Democrat, but he strongly prefers the 15 Now proposal to Mayor Murray's. "I might have to consider a job like this," he said, pointing to McDonald's, unless he finds work soon. "Even though we're in a technology-driven town, it's still difficult. I believe that people need action now. Most corporations do things immediately—you don't see price changes being phased in. They happen now."


Comments (19) RSS

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seatackled 1
I'm in.
Posted by seatackled on May 15, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 2
Hellz Yeah!
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on May 15, 2014 at 1:47 PM · Report this

Posted by HomoLiberal American't on May 15, 2014 at 2:15 PM · Report this
We think this will generate a lot of jobs. For Portland.
Posted by Thom and Bri Bri on May 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 5

This is a good time to remember that the airlines at Sea-Tac airport had to raise wages to compete with the $15/hr jobs that surrounded the the airport in the town of Sea-Tac.

It's basic economics. If consumers in location A are paying more for widgets than consumers in location B, then then blah blah blah...

It's why nobody has ever been able to link a decrease in employment to an increase in the minimum wage.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 15, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 6
I will happily sign their petition at the earliest opportunity.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on May 15, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
JF 7
"I believe that with all the hard work and dedication and time and energy that I've put into this job, I deserve to have health insurance, go to school and educate myself, and to pay my rent at the same time. And I need that now—and not in 2025,"

Now that's some entitlement.
Posted by JF on May 15, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Can anyone explain why franchise owners are lumped in with big business? Someone who invests in a single Subway franchise is a small business by any reasonable definition.

Subway Inc. does not pay her labor costs; those are paid by the small business out of the revenues from that single store. So why do we pretend they are in the same league with big business? I don't get it.
Posted by Citizen R on May 15, 2014 at 4:08 PM · Report this
I hope all the losers, like Cthulhu, who support this crap get laid off.

I really really do.

Face the facts: your a loser - and you make loser's wages.

end of story.
Posted by cold hard reality on May 15, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Well this is one human spammer that I will actually stop and engage with! Come find me clipboard soldiers!
Posted by Eckstein on May 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Id really have to disagree with your interpretation of the word "entitlement". The person quoted sounds like they simply want the opportunity to advance as far as they can in society, which is admirable. People who have that sort of ambition should be encouraged and supported in their efforts to move on up and contribute more. Wanting a society with the opportunity for upward mobility isn't a sense of entitlement, it is the yearning for a meritocracy. If you think about it, it's basically the opposite of entitlement.

And this lack of opportunity is bad for society. Look at the nursing shortage. There will be far too few nurses in a few years. Yet schools haven't been able to attract nurses from the private sector to come to the classrooms and teach. This means that even though there is a real need in that sector, there are too few classroom slots for all the applicants. People are being turned down for a career path this country NEEDS them to take because of institutional problems. The quoted person's experience with the minimum wage is just another example of structural problems preventing driven and capable people from high achieving and benefiting society through that.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 15, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Hi, JF, Autumn Brown here. I am entitled! I believe every single person like me is also entitled to the right to a decent life and I don't think that's a bad thing! I'm a socialist!
Posted by AutumnBrown1094 on May 15, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 13

And when employment doesn't decline at all, your ideology will not change in slightest. That's how you know you're a blind ideologue. You get the social experiment you always wanted to prove your strident claims, and when you get your ass handed to you, nothing changes. You become a dead ender, one of those in the aging demographic the rest of America is waiting to die off so the reactionary wing will drop out of the politics.

For the record, if 15Now's charter amendment passes and any of the doom you guys predicted comes to pass, I'll have to admit I was wrong.

The fact that you guys think minimum wage workers are losers is why Charter Amendment 20 will pass. The "No on 20" campaign is made up of creeps who think the people at the bottom of the wage scale are garbage. Seattle wants nothing to do with the likes of you.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 15, 2014 at 7:34 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 14

They benefit from the economics of scale. That's why they're not "small".
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 15, 2014 at 7:39 PM · Report this
chaseacross 15
@JF Please tell me you are pulling some next-level irony and not being a gaping asshole. EVERY full time job ought to pay enough to afford someome healthcare, education, and housing. If a job does not pay as much, government (read: taxpayers), fills the gap, and that is hardly fair.

Since when are housing, healthcare, and education anything other than utter necessities.?
Posted by chaseacross on May 15, 2014 at 8:21 PM · Report this
If higher education were truly a necessity, it would be free like primary and high school are. The fact is that two thirds of jobs, including lots that pay reasonably well, do not require a college degree. Couple that with the fact that too many people with degrees are unemployed and the ridiculous cost of college is definitely a luxury, not a necessity.
Posted by fnbs on May 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM · Report this
chaseacross 17
@fnsb I want to live in the world you're living in. Most od those jobs that you say don't require a college degree do require some accredition or post-sexondary education. Excepting people who were born pretty, rich, or without conscience, I can't name many twenty-somethings who aren't struggling.
Posted by chaseacross on May 15, 2014 at 8:49 PM · Report this
Id say that the employment info you are talking about shows that our educational system is broken, not that a college education is clearly overvalued. Learning needs a practical purpose. Many college majors lack that purpose. Our high education system was formerly used to train the managerial class, now it is used to train our technical class, but its systems and structure havent fully moved from the former to the latter. I think in order to be effective, higher ed needs to do 2 things. 1) stop being pay to play 2) partner with government and industry to produce the graduates that industry actually needs.
Posted by JonCracolici on May 15, 2014 at 9:38 PM · Report this
@18- You are absolutely right

@17- I'm living in the real world, and the fact that people are struggling is NOT because they need more college education. Most recent college graduates are among those struggling, and not for lack of education.

There are good-paying jobs out there for people that don't require degrees. Most of them involve starting out in a crappy job, working really hard, and moving up. People who have the insight to see the long-term payoff of that are doing exactly that, and we're fine. I also have a lot of friends who are struggling. Most of them have either refused to take jobs they felt were beneath them, or didn't stay in those jobs because they didn't like their job. News flash- you don't always have to like your job. That, also, is a luxury, not a necessity.
Posted by fnbs on May 16, 2014 at 8:13 AM · Report this

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