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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

You'll Never Guess Who's Joining the "Legal Fight Against Seattle's Minimum Wage"

Posted by on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Actually, if you know anything about the recent history of minimum-wage fights, you can probably guess exactly who's supporting a suit against Seattle's $15 minimum wage law: The National Restaurant Association. (Or, as many like to call it, "the other NRA.")

Yesterday, that NRA—along with five other business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce* and the Washington Retail Association—filed an amicus brief supporting the International Franchise Association's lawsuit, which seeks to block the parts of Seattle's wage law that put franchise businesses on the fast-tracked large business wage schedule. In their amicus brief (PDF here), they seem horrified by Seattle's wage law, and not necessarily just the franchise part.

"The Ordinance is extraordinary," their introduction begins. "Simply stated, the Ordinance will soon prohibit countless businesses from hiring any person, regardless of their skill level and experience, to perform any job unless they pay a wage of $15.00 per hour."

Um... yeah, guys. That was kind of the point.

They also repeat claims that the $15 minimum-wage law will cause rampant unemployment, prevent "low-skilled and inexperienced workers" from finding jobs, and erode the benefits that low-income workers receive from their employers. They say that increasing the labor costs of franchise businesses will make it "difficult—if not impracticable—for franchisees to compete" with non-franchise small businesses, and they cite comments from policymakers that the IFA lawsuit also cited. Like an e-mail Nick Hanauer, member of the mayor's minimum wage committee, sent to Tim Burgess, the city council president, in which he argued that "A city dominated by independent, locally owned, unique sandwich and hamburger restaurants will be more economically, civically and culturally rich than one dominated by extractive national chains." The horrors!

It's such whiplash to go from the $15 minimum wage debate, where it was common to hear the argument that a minimum wage would almost help the big guys like McDonald's and Subway, who could afford raises, but would inevitably crush the souls of little indie cafes and restaurants, to this new world of press releases from the IFA (and now NRA) that this horrible $15 minimum wage is gonna push all the poor little KFCs out of the city.

One heads up for anyone who didn't get the memo: One big reason why fast-food workers were included in a faster wage raise? THEY DID ALL THE GODDAMN WORK TO GET IT ON THE CITY'S POLITICAL AGENDA IN THE FIRST PLACE. Excuse me for yelling. But it's true.

*Motto: "Standing Up for American Enterprise"


Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Despite the consistent growth of the restaurant industry over the last decade, wages have been stagnant since the seventies. That means that I am making less now, in real dollars, than I did when I first started in the business. Every time the minimum wage comes up, the NRA throws a tantrum. Somehow, what had a real impact on the industry was the financial crash of 2008.
Posted by BakerB on August 13, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
In other words, they're getting together to loudly and proudly announce that they can't run their businesses properly but should be allowed to keep running them anyway.
Posted by treehugger on August 13, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
sperifera 4
" increasing the labor costs of franchise businesses will make it "difficult—if not impracticable—for franchisees to compete" with non-franchise small businesses "

So if I understand this correctly, that will mean less McDonalds and Subways and more Mom'n'Pop burger joints and sandwich shops? Count me in!
Posted by sperifera on August 13, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
I hope the courts don't see this as "ripe". Why don't we let it phase in for a couple years and see how it goes?
Posted by fletc3her on August 13, 2014 at 6:26 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8
If they believed any of their own rhetoric, they'd let Seattle be a cautionary tale for the rest of the world, scotching any other minimum wage increases lest they become smoking crater of economic stagnation like Seattle.

But they know Seattle will go on quite well after $15/hour becomes the norm, and then every other city will want to follow. That's what they fear. It's actually the same fear the rich have of health care reform: they know it works.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on August 13, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this
@8: My worry is that they'll do what they did with the ACA -- keep sabotaging and sabotaging, then yell about the very things they did to make it not work, and then idiots believe their bullshit.
Posted by themightywoozie on August 13, 2014 at 9:31 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 11
What the city council should do is put everybody on the fast track. End this stupid lawsuit, and punish everybody for letting it get this far.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on August 13, 2014 at 11:30 PM · Report this

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