People are yelling, signing, and shade-throwing. Others are finally jumping aboard (like the leaders of the Downtown Emergency Services Center, who yesterday announced they're backing the $15 plan—provided the city council passes a resolution calling for "no resulting loss of homeless services"). And then there's Meinert.
He was a member of the mayor's advisory committee on minimum wage, but he's now saying "the process was a charade" full of "bad faith negotiating" and "political blackmail" and overseen by a mayoral staff that was exhibiting "either incompetence or intentional dishonesty," and... (We pause here for a brief moment of reflection on Meinert's endorsement of the mayor seven months ago) ... resulting in "a shit ordinance" and, finally:
In the end, I am so disgusted with this process, and with the inner workings of local politics, the callous disregard for negative impacts on small business and small non profits, that I am feeling pretty done with local politics. And I hate to say it, but I'm not sure I can support candidates who also take money from SEIU, UFCW and the King County Labor Council."
Full Meinert fusillade in the jump:
I was asked to serve on the Mayor’s Income Inequality Committee, and committed to work with a broad array of voices in finding a way to address income inequality locally by raising the minimum wage in Seattle. As representatives of business I entered into this in good faith, agreeing we needed to act.
Recently Mayor Murray announced a deal from the committee, said to be a compromise, claiming it would meet his goal of avoiding a costly battle at the ballot box. Much credit was given for a collaborative process that brought business together with non-profits and labor unions to craft a near consensus compromise. All nice, except none of this is true.
In fact, the process was a charade. And in the end, business isn't supporting it, and $15Now is running their initiative. So if success was broad support and no initiative, this is a failure.
At the end of the process many on the committee did agree to tentatively support the ‘deal’ IF the actual ordinance reflected what we agreed to. Unfortunately, the final ordinance does not reflect what the IIAC agreed to, and many important details were changed between agreements at the meetings and drafting of the final document. This sort of bad faith negotiating took place throughout the process, as the Mayor’s staff, out of either incompetence or intentional dishonesty, continued to change what was agreed upon to something in draft form that reflected only what Labor leaders wanted. The final ordinance draft changed important elements of what was agreed on.
It should also be pointed out that the final tally of IIAC members supporting the framework of a deal wasn’t based on compromise as much as political blackmail. In the final negotiations the Mayor’s staff told the business side that we could agree to what they had put on the table (which again, wasn’t what had been agreed to), or the
Mayor would draft something “worse” to send to council. That's not creating a compromise or consensus. It's bullying.
Had this process been run better and more honestly, Seattle could have drafted a $15 minimum wage ordinance that both business leaders and labor leaders supported. It could have been historic. Unfortunately it’s more of a mess than historic. During the process, over and over again Labor stormed out of the room, cried, yelled, and took “religious” positions - in that they made no sense but could not be compromised on. The final ordinance reflects goals of Labor leaders that go far beyond raising the minimum wage. They include breaking the franchise model to open up franchise agreements to allow for collective bargaining, getting rid of tipping, moving away from part time work, and moving people out of employee paid health plans into the State exchange. None of these are necessarily bad things, but they shouldn’t have been legislated in this ordinance. Labor manipulated this process and I have lost all respect for the labor leaders involved.
So we have a messy ordinance with 4 different minimum wages, different phase in times for different businesses, a move away from standard definitions of what a business is and what an employee is, and confusing elements like “phasing out” of tips and health care benefits.
As a result of there being no tip credit for "large" businesses and the tip credit for small business phasing out, expect to see the restaurant industry in Seattle move to service charges instead of tips. Few in the full service restaurant industry will make any more money, but many servers and bartenders will make significantly less. Lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of everyone who supports this deal, Labor leaders, and the electeds who vote for it. Ironically, restaurant owners will make the same, some even more.
In the end, I am so disgusted with this process, and with the inner workings of local politics, the callous disregard for negative impacts on small business and small non profits, that I am feeling pretty done with local politics. And I hate to say it, but I'm not sure I can support candidates who also take money from SEIU, UFCW and the King County Labor Council. I'd rather give my money to the many small progressive non-profits they are willing to crush because they aren't part of their unions so none of their concern. Be skeptical and cynical as you can be about politicians, and never doubt that they are more than willing to trade good policy, policy they believe in, for donations, votes, appearances over substance, and press. And in the end, the only people who will be celebrating this ordinance are those that want these things. It's a shit ordinance. Don't even begin to think otherwise. When you read who takes credit for it in the national media, you will know who wins, and why.
It would be a good time for the Mayor and Council to read Hans Christian Anderson. This ordinance is naked.
(PS - a real compromise would have been big and small businesses all going to $15 in 3 years, with a permanent, enforceable tip credit, a health care credit, exempting micro businesses and non-profits. This would have been better for workers and for business. Could have. Should have. That was traded away.)