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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Three Things to Watch for Now That Seattle Has Passed a $15 Minimum Wage Law

Posted by on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Council Member Kshama Sawant speaks to a crowd before yesterdays landmark vote on a $15 minimum wage for Seattle.
  • Ansel Herz
  • Council Member Kshama Sawant speaks to a crowd before yesterday's landmark vote on a phased-in $15 minimum wage for Seattle.
Yesterday afternoon, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed legislation enacting a phased-in $15 minimum wage in Seattle, the highest minimum wage in the country. Mayor Ed Murray is expected to sign the bill into law this afternoon, just after 1 p.m. in Cal Anderson Park. The first phase of the wage raise is scheduled to start April 1, 2015, and headlines around the country seem to be asking if Seattle, the progressive urban utopia, is just the beginning of a nationwide trend.

Here, it was a yearlong fight—Seattle's first fast-food strike was just one year ago—and that fight went on till the very last minute.

In the city council chamber yesterday, during the final deliberation and vote, a jam-packed room erupted alternately in cheers and jeers, with the crowd giving multiple standing ovations and 15 Now activists repeatedly bringing the meeting to a halt with call-and-response chants. When last-minute amendments put forth by Council Member Kshama Sawant were voted down, activists drowned out council members with shouts of "SHAME! SHAME!"

Seattle Nice? Not so much.

But far from being radical, two of Sawant's amendments—one eliminating training-wage provisions and one to bring the start date back to its original January 1, 2015—gained enough traction with her colleagues to fail by only one vote apiece. Many of her colleagues, giving speeches before the vote, gave her well-earned credit for keeping the fight for $15 front and center. And after the vote, a crowd of activists and politicians gathered out on City Hall's public plaza to eat cake and ice cream (from local small businesses!) and celebrate. Above them, giant banners proclaimed "GOOD WORK, SEATTLE."

So what happens next? Well, there are three big things to keep your eyes on:

(1) 15 Now is expected to decide within a week or two whether to put their faster $15 measure with fewer exceptions on the ballot. Spoiler alert: They're not going to. You can ask them for that answer till you're blue in the face (we've tried), and all they'll say is that their organization has to decide and it's a democratic process—but they haven't been sending out fundraising e-mails claiming victory and changing their Twitter avatar to "15 Won" for no reason. They consider this compromise bill a victory, plain and simple.

(2) The International Franchise Association is threatening a lawsuit. The association representing franchise owners has said in a statement that Seattle's new law, which counts individual franchises as parts of their parent company (and therefore sets them on the steeper "big business" wage schedule), is "discriminatory" toward franchisees. They say they'll file suit to overturn that portion of the law. But the city doesn't seem worried. Mayor Ed Murray said yesterday that the city became aware of these legal threats in advance and did research to be sure the new legislation complies with any applicable state laws. "We believe we're on pretty solid ground," he said. SEIU 775 president and minimum-wage advisory committee co-chair David Rolf was even more direct yesterday, calling the lawsuit "bullshit."

(3) If the city doesn't enact some serious change in how it enforces its labor laws, this whole fight will have been for nothing. That's right: The city is now charged with enforcing a minimum wage schedule so complicated it defies casual explanation and can't simply be printed on a public bus advertisement or poster. Which would be tough for any city, but it's tough for Seattle in particular. See, our fair city has a laudable track record of passing tough, progressive laws—and an abysmal track record of enforcing them. The mayor and city council say they're already hard at work on an enforcement task force, and the council passed an enforcement and outreach resolution yesterday accompanying the wage bill. Both the mayor and Council Member Nick Licata fully support creating an entirely new city office for labor law enforcement. These big decisions around enforcement are expected by the time this year's city budget debuts in the fall. This is the next big fight. Murray said as much yesterday in a statement after the vote: "Today symbolizes a beginning, not an end. It is about promises to keep, not promises kept." And the movement labor and 15 Now have built will need to be called upon again to see these promises through.

But for today? Today brings us a public bill-signing in a pretty city park. (And probably a lot of hungover activists.)

 

Comments (43) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
Watch for Olympia to try and gut this piece of economic justice in their ongoing efforts to "fuck Seattle".
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on June 3, 2014 at 6:23 AM · Report this
2
Won't somebody think of the poor franchises!
Posted by Foonken2 on June 3, 2014 at 7:19 AM · Report this
3
I'm not so sure 15Now is going to accept this. Sure it;'s a victory, but these don't seem the type to accept a shitty compromise when they have good reason to think they can get something better.

There will most likely be a referendum on this as well as no way out of state business interests stay away.
Posted by giffy on June 3, 2014 at 7:56 AM · Report this
4
This is great, I'll no longer need to even consider high schoolers or dropouts from Seattle to ice my cupcakes; at $15 an hour I can get college kids from Shoreline, Bellevue, and Bothell. Hell, I bet fine, young, better educated kids would even commute from Tacoma for this kind of money.
Posted by Low quality people will need to move out on June 3, 2014 at 8:15 AM · Report this
5
If franchises don't want to be included in the parent company, then why do they take on their logos, their menus and most of the rest of their policies?
Posted by treehugger on June 3, 2014 at 8:30 AM · Report this
rob! 6
Franchisees are paying for a more-or-less turnkey operation in contrast to developing everything themselves, but it'll be interesting to see whether the International Franchise Association also develops strategies for pressuring parent companies (franchisors) to lower licensing and marketing fees as well as franchisors' profits on any sole-source equipment and supplies. If all their efforts are directed at reducing labor costs alone, any credibility they have will be damaged. Maybe it will be exposed as more of an International Franchisor's Association.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on June 3, 2014 at 9:33 AM · Report this
7
@6 or just replace people with machines and self ordering kiosks.
Posted by Sugartit on June 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM · Report this
8
@4 Congratulations!

Not only is it scientifically proven that college makes you a better cupcake icer, but it also limits employment opportunities so that you don't have to worry about them leaving your bullshit job after you've gone to the time and effort of hiring and training them.

You, sir, are clearly a businessman of the highest caliber.
Posted by Wow! You Totally Got Us On That One! on June 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM · Report this
9
3 things to watch for?

Small businesses having one of two choices would be first. Either skirt a stupid law written by children, or become a family business and lay other employees off. Or fail, since economic principles work whether idiot lefties think so or not.

Big corporate chains you all hate? Get used to them. You'll have run every small business out.

And look for the cost of everything to skyrocket in the Peoples Republic of Seattle. Skilled workers aren't going to work for the same wage as the lazy thriftless minimum wage jockies you twits love so much. That plumbing job or meal out or car repair. Whew, look at that bill, willya?

Idiots, the lot of you. Idiots whose hatred of others success makes you war on the middle class. Idiots without even an inkling of basic economics. Just plain bone stupid idiots, really.
Posted by Seattleblues on June 3, 2014 at 9:55 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 10
@4 That's what the fucking training wage provisions were supposed to be for, ignorant asshat.

Now, every job is going to be training wage then fired and hire a new person for training wage.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on June 3, 2014 at 9:58 AM · Report this
11
The franchisees will win.
Posted by unregistered 9182 on June 3, 2014 at 10:08 AM · Report this
12
@9. Oh do shut the fuck up.
Posted by faultytower on June 3, 2014 at 10:17 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 13
@9: Yeah, the people who fought and secured a major and history making legislative victory are acting like children, not the loser calling them names anonymously on the internet.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 3, 2014 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 14
@9: But please, do not stop impotently crying about it to a bunch of people who do not even like you. We find it a real treat. It always makes me smile, anyway.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 3, 2014 at 10:34 AM · Report this
15
I lost nothing, Teddy.

I haven't (and won't) bid on a house or other property in Seattle in years. Stupid laws like this one written by overgrown toddlers forever blaming others for their problems? Doesn't affect me. I live outside the Peoples Republic of Seattle.

Know who lost, kiddo? Those hard working small business owners forced to break a profoundly stupid law or go bankrupt. See, liberal idiots always whining 'it's not faaaaaiiiiirrrrr!!!!! and good economic policy are mutually exclusive.
Posted by Seattleblues on June 3, 2014 at 10:40 AM · Report this
16
Great article, Anna! Thanks.
Posted by Seattle91 on June 3, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 17
@15: If it does not even affect you, than why are you crying so much about it and calling people names like an overgrown toddler?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 3, 2014 at 11:00 AM · Report this
18
@14

Oh, fyi?

The dislike of people lacking decency, integrity, morality, work ethic and basic human intelligence is a sort of litmus test for me. Were I to find myself agreeing with most of you, and any Stranger 'writer' on anything I'd be seriously examining where the error lay.
Posted by Seattleblues on June 3, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 19
@18: And yet, you just can't quit us. You can't quit calling people who disagree with you childish/bigoted names. You can't stop obsessing over what gay people do together. Where does the error lay there?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on June 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM · Report this
20
@9 Who's to say those working minimum wage jobs are lazy? Sometimes that's all someone with a degree can get. Not everyone who works for minimum wage doesn't want something better. When there are more people than jobs, you get what you can get. So why shouldn't it be livable? Economists can't agree on whether or not this will actually cause issues. They don't know what will happen. Because some places have found they only need to raise prices by a small amount.

Fact is, if you work, you deserve to make livable wage. Working at a fast food joint or retail, dealing with customers who like to complain to just complain day in and day out is not only difficult, it is stressful and frustrating. Not everyone can afford to go to school to get a degree. You can't always cover your cost of living with grants and loans.
Posted by Justaworker on June 3, 2014 at 11:34 AM · Report this
21
One thing is guaranteed: there will be unexpected consequences from $15. And some negative.
Posted by unregistered 9182 on June 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM · Report this
22
When did the people get to vote on this?
Posted by Confused Citizen on June 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
23
So, if you're against this - if you believe that the only people who deserve to be making "at least" $15 an hour, literally the minimum to cover basic living needs in the city, are people with education and/or skilled labor experience, then my question is - when did we start undervaluing education and technical skill?
Posted by j.lee on June 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM · Report this
24
Subhumanblues certainly is throwing a major temper tantrum today.

I agree Theodore it is amusing to watch. Please do continue Subhumantoddlerblues.

@22 when they elected their Mayor and Council reps.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on June 3, 2014 at 12:18 PM · Report this
25
I recently purchased two scoops of ice cream for $8.00. The owner of this store supported $15/hr. I decided two scoops of ice cream isn't worth $8.00. I'll be taking my business elsewhere or buying ice cream in the grocery store.
Posted by Costs Matter on June 3, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
26
Elected by the people and doing whatever they want despite what their people want. Interesting.
Posted by Confused Citizen on June 3, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Report this
27
Engaging you honestly, how exactly is one supposed to survive, let alone try to go to school and do better on minimum wage? I make barely above it - enough where this wage hike affects me - and I do an office job. I am college educated - hell, half the people here are. I did everything "right", and I'm floundering. If I move out of the city to get a lower rent, I just won't have the time to work odd jobs to have anything resembling a savings. I can't afford a car, and the bus cuts are going to screw me.

I am telling you that this movement for more liberal business practices is fronted by people like me. We are getting screwed doing everything we were supposed to do. Wages are just too low to make do and businesses know it's an employer's market. People can be comically underpaid for skilled work - I do legal document processing and I make next to nothing! I know you have this impression that we are all a bunch of tatted and pierced dropouts getting coke money working at a burger joint who want more money for Pabst and concerts, but those people don't vote!

Disagreeing with you makes me a communist?
Posted by Actual Working Class Poster on June 3, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
28
If i am not mistaken, small businesses have seven years to get up to $15/hr. If a small business owner really feels that try are unable to accomplish that in seven years then there are something they need to contemplate. The first of which is their own take home pay.
Posted by Archnemesis121 on June 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
29
@26 That is how representative democracy works. Look on the bright side if you don't like their decisions you can vote against them in a few years.

Unless of course you don't vote in which case STFU.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on June 3, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
30
" I did everything "right", and I'm floundering"

Really? Amazon and MSFT are hiring computer engineers like gangbusters. My cousin just got hired at $90K a year fresh out of college. You're floundering because your degree is probably worthless.
Posted by Limousine Liberals on June 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
31
@19 - remember also that seattleblueballs (for all of its morality/decency blustering,) said that we should be able to fuck whoever we want regardless of gender or sexual orientation. (or that we should all be celibate, not sure which. . . )

seattleblueballs is either deeply confused or a not very well organised troll (oh, we all now which. . . )

>>May 20 - Seattleblues commented on Federal Judge Strikes Down Oregon's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage. "Sexual orientations and gender identity don't exist."

sexual orientations. . . don't exist. _DON'T EXIST_
Posted by katar on June 3, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this
32
"It's your fault that you are a low wage worker."
vs.
"If you can't pay people a living wage, then you don't deserve to be in business"

Both premises are obviously wrong.
Posted by Seattle91 on June 3, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
33
@32 'Both premises are obviously wrong.'

Wrong in the sense of being overly simplistic?

There is some truth to both of them, to go along with their error, so perhaps you could explain your reasoning rather than tossing the "obvious" label on your argument and declaring victory?
Posted by Wow! You Totally Got Us On That One! on June 3, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
drhackenbush 34
@32 no, the second premise is not obviously wrong. If you can only succeed as a business by exploiting your employees, which is what the second premise's first clause means, then society has every right to condemn you to failure by forcing you out of business to clear the market for someone who can do better.
Posted by drhackenbush on June 3, 2014 at 6:07 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 35
Anna forgot number 4: I lose my job. I'm basically guaranteed to have no job when this goes into effect and I'll be laid off. Hope those "progressives" are happy. At least I'll be able to move out of the state because I have no family to support. I feel bad for people in other situations. It would be nice if we would just go to work making more money, but we all know that's not going to be the case. My job was just voted away from me. I hope the fascists at 15Now feel proud of themselves.

But the good news is hopefully I can find a job elsewhere in the state, like maybe Bellevue, which is going to turn into a boom town. I, other restaurant workers and most small business owners will be singing this as our new theme song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L09qnRfZ…

I find it funny that 15Now has chapters in Chicago, NYC...but not one in Bellevue. Maybe that makes sense considering they had a Republican mayor up until last year. At least there is somewhere in the area that will still have jobs.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on June 3, 2014 at 8:55 PM · Report this
36
@35 Ok so let me get this straight, the duly elected representatives of the "miniarchy" that is the city of Seattle agree upon a minimum wage for employment contracts. Contract enforcement being one enforcement power you have expressly stated is a proper use of government. And you howl in pain NO NO NO. NO true Scotsman would do such a thing.

Other Cities, "miniarchies" (in your Utopia) start looking at the idea and you squirm and yell because, NO NO NO it's not what you believe a True Scotsman would do.

Watching you chase your tail and bark is getting old.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on June 4, 2014 at 1:44 AM · Report this
37
@35 After spending all this time establishing your character as a bonafide asshole, I don't think the story justifies you as a sympathetic character.
Posted by This May Require A Total Rewrite on June 4, 2014 at 8:07 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 38
@36
How the fuck is minimum wage a "contract"? It is the GOVERNMENT ORDERING PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES TO ENGAGE IN A CERTAIN BEHAVIOR ON PAIN OF JAIL TIME/FINES. That's the opposite of a voluntary contract. Now, if a person and a business agree to work for a certain amount, and the business changes its mind, then that is a breach of contract.

Neither my employer nor myself signed any contract to work for 15/hour. This is the government ordering us around.

First, I never said a minarchist state would be a utopia. Second, a minarchy is, by definition, a state that only functions to secure freedoms, NOT to interfere in the agreements between two people. Why do you use the word "minarchism" if you don't even know what it means?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minarchism
Posted by collectivism_sucks on June 4, 2014 at 12:17 PM · Report this
venomlash 39
@38: Minimum wage laws do NOT "[order] PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES TO ENGAGE IN A CERTAIN BEHAVIOR ON PAIN OF JAIL TIME/FINES". Rather, like most laws, they PROHIBIT certain behaviors: namely, selling labor for less than a certain price per man-hour. Nobody's forcing anyone to employ people at $15/hr!
Posted by venomlash on June 4, 2014 at 12:28 PM · Report this
40
@38 oh I know what it means. I also think it is stupid.

What I'm trying to get you to understand is you can't have it both ways. You can't cry at the injustice of "Big Government" lording it over small regional governments, call for it's dismantlement, then run crying to a big government when your local small government passes an ordinance you don't like.

But all that aside. Let us assume you get your left libitarian reform and we all break up into little competing semi-autonomous political units. How do you propose those little units govern themselves, govern their relations with other little semi-autonomous political units. Through what process?

Then ask yourself what are you going to do when the little semi-autonomous political unit you live in passes a law you don't like. They will you know, it is not a matter of if, it will happen. Now what do you do, your fantasy of everyone suddenly turning around and fully agreeing with you all the time on everything if only this political structure was in place has just blown up.

Are you starting to understand why I think your political views are simplistic, utopian, and stupid. You toss around labels, slice and dice political terminology you clearly don't fully understand but not once do you appear to think about the actual day to day workings of political process. Not one word about the basic framework of debate, negotiation, compromise that needs to happen within any deliberative political structure.

And no telling me that if country would just implement whatever whacked out on goof balls fringe theory of governmental structure you've latched onto this week we'll all suddenly become all altruistic and shit isn't going to cut it.

"Life in the state of nature is poor, nasty, brutish and short."

More...
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on June 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 41
@40
Honestly, what the fuck are you talking about?

Let me put it this way: what if you got your dream of a one world government run by robots and the robots decided to force everyone to wear grey overalls?

Oh, your ideology has NOTHING to do with robots? And NOTHING I'm saying suggests that we should have "semi autonomous political units." Honestly, that is the biggest strawman I've ever heard of and proves you have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.

All I'm saying is that we should maximize human liberty and minimize government. ALL government, be it local, state or federal. There is NOTHING utopian about "lower taxes, let people run their lives and be free and things will work out better than they are."

And if libertarianism is a "whack ball fringe theory", then it is a pretty fucking huge "fringe":
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com…

And minarchism is the idea, but just the idea. It is NOT going to happen any time soon and we know that. So we think of that as the goal as we work towards things like deregulating homeless shelters so we aren't punished by government for having the audacity to take care of our own (it was a libertarian-lead push that Governor Gregorie signed into law...guess that was a "fringe act" too? http://votesmart.org/bill/8937/28857/lim…) or legalization of cannabis, which was a libertarian idea that liberals stole. And not raising the minimum wage but instead protecting unions is also a libertarian idea.

Honestly, stop talking. You're just embarrassing yourself with your ignorance.
More...
Posted by collectivism_sucks on June 5, 2014 at 4:24 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 42
@39
Actually, prohibiting a behavior IS ordering them to do something: pay only 15/hour or else.

What if a business can only pay me 12/hour and I say 12/hour is better than 0/hour and take it? Both the employer and maybe myself are in trouble DESPITE the fact that it was a freely entered agreement that isn't hurting anyone, anyone's property, or the environment.

A libertarian usually (most often, but not 100% of the time) believes that if there is no victim, there is no crime. So, why should a freely entered agreement between two adults be illegal? Any agreement, be it to have sex for money, buy a drug to use on one's own body or work for less than a few government officials say I should work for?

If there was an opt-out to this law, I wouldn't be against it. I would just go to city hall, get an "opt out" card and get a job anywhere easily. Instead, I have to lose the job I now have.

And considering I'm basically guaranteed to lose my job, you can understand why I'm so pissed off.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on June 5, 2014 at 4:29 AM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 43
@42: If you are basically guaranteed to lose your job, you can't be very good at it.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on June 5, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this

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