Higher minimum wage? West Seattle Chamber discussion Thursday, online survey now

February 10, 2014 at 9:07 am | In West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

Even if you’re not a member of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, you’re invited to its February lunch meeting this Thursday, focused on one of the city’s most hotly debated current topics – raising the minimum wage. A panel discussion will be part of the meeting 11:30 am-1 pm Thursday (February 13th) at The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW; WSB sponsor). The Chamber announcement says the panel will include “people studying potential impacts … and business owners that will be impacted.” You can register online here (discounted early registration through tomorrow). Whether or not you attend, you’re invited to take an online survey created by a group of business associations in the city; it’ll be open through February 14th, and the link is here.

25 Comments

  1. Raising the minimum wage seems like a false solution to a problem. Thinking raising the minimum wage will not in turn raise the price/cost of things like housing, food and other necessities equally as well as what might be deemed disposable income seems short cited.

    If you have found yourself in a situation where the job you are preforming is only worth a certain amount of dollars per hour and your lifestyle demands more dollars per hour… it is time to make some choices that will better you in the long run.

    Comment by B_B — 9:51 am February 10, 2014 #

  2. If someone is working full-time, they should be able to make a living wage. Your assumption that their work is not valuable enough or that they have made bad choices is condescending.

    Comment by KBear — 10:41 am February 10, 2014 #

  3. Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen deployed overseas and stationed in the US earn less than the proposed $15.00 per hour minimum wage.
    Whats make them think that “Flipping Burgers” and asking “Would you like fries with that?” DESERVES more then they do????

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 10:47 am February 10, 2014 #

  4. B_B,

    Speaking of choices to be made…don’t *ever* let your business name into the public sphere if you want to keep *your* business viable.

    After your comment, I would not support your business if I knew which one it was. Never. I mean that neighbor.

    Comment by well then — 11:35 am February 10, 2014 #

  5. I don’t understand why you rebuke B_B, it is true. There is a reason that most menial jobs don’t pay much, it’s because I don’t believe they were meant as a career path. Understanding basic economics is a good thing, if people make more, things end up costing more, asking someone to make an investment in their education so that they can move into a more valuable job is not unkind, it’s just being honest with them.

    Comment by C_T — 11:45 am February 10, 2014 #

  6. I agree w/ B_B. The US has spent $668 billion fighting poverty since LBJ declared war on poverty 50 years ago. Today 15% of Americans live in poverty, not much better than the 19% in 1964. If these people want more money for their time they need the skills to do so. The answer is education.

    Comment by Unknown — 11:49 am February 10, 2014 #

  7. A one-size-fits-all non-phased $15/hour minimum wage increase is likely to have unintended negative consequences for the many wonderful, small, family-owned businesses in West Seattle that my household relies on. Small, local retail businesses that are in competition with larger businesses that have production/service/ distribution workers outside of Seattle will not be able to achieve price points that consumers will accept (despite the superior service quality upon which small retailers have relied to survive big box & on-line competition over the past 20 years). They will close or move. You could call this reasoning economics, or simply common sense. If tipping income isn’t included, restaurants will also suffer.

    There are many other likely consequences of the proposed increase(increased youth unemployment, decreased services from non-profits that receive federal/state/county grant funding, increased cost of living for the most needy who are on social security/disability or other fixed income, elimination of non-wage benefits, etc.).

    We can make public policy decisions that have trade-offs, i.e. better jobs for fewer jobs. But it’s disingenuous to pretend that a 60% increase in the minimum wage will have no impacts. I’m so glad the Chamber is getting involved; hopefully better-informed approaches will emerge.

    Comment by Morgan neighbor — 11:59 am February 10, 2014 #

  8. well then -
    Did you really say “I mean that neighbor”? Sheesh.

    Comment by Maria — 11:59 am February 10, 2014 #

  9. Until/unless people are willing to give up cheap products like McDonald’s “Dollar Menu”, there will always be jobs that leave employees living below the poverty line.

    Comment by Twobottles — 12:40 pm February 10, 2014 #

  10. Well then – Neighbor, I understand why we have a minimum wage and certain jobs are just that. I hope you consider the wages being paid of all businesses you patronize.

    KBear – did not intend to be condescending.

    If you needed to hire someone to cut your lawn, two hour job… two people with the exact same background and you know each of them exactly the same with no emotional attachment and you offered each 50 bucks and one said I will only do it for 80 bucks. What one gets the gig?

    Feed them once or teach them to fish?

    Comment by B_B — 1:23 pm February 10, 2014 #

  11. thank you for posting; all the registration page says is: “A panel has been assembled of people who are studying potential impacts, working to develop a strategy and business owners that will be impacted.”
    ~
    WS Chamber; would be nice to know who is on the panel
    ~
    good to see this being addressed seriously in WS; wish I could attend, but I will be participating in an all day forum at City Hall on affordable housing; both of these topics equally critical
    ~
    and more than a bit ironic, pretty sure that no one who is in the category of our current min wage ($9.32/hr) could afford to pay the admission fee to this forum about min wage
    ~
    after taxes, a min wage earner would have to work 4.6 hours in order to afford a ticket to this luncheon
    ~
    but I suppose, at least nice to be invited

    Comment by Diane — 1:25 pm February 10, 2014 #

  12. Diane – I asked this morning and they hadn’t finished confirming who would be on it. I’ll add any information I eventually get about that.

    Comment by WSB — 1:34 pm February 10, 2014 #

  13. The minimum wage going to $15/hr is a done deal. If you own a small or large business my best advice is to get involved on how to get some concessions from the city to offset the wage increase.

    Comment by rr — 2:09 pm February 10, 2014 #

  14. I gaurantee you that business owners will drop hours for employees or worse just let them go. Having an employee making more money than a business owner isn’t gonna happen trust me. I know I run a business.

    Comment by Seahawk Momma — 3:30 pm February 10, 2014 #

  15. I certainly don’t know the right answer to this problem and will be reading with interest what comes out of the forums.
    .
    What won’t happen is what seems like an appropriate response for big corps with menial workers at the bottom. Exec management stops making hundreds of times what their menial worker does and sends that money “downstairs”. (i.e. the dreaded “wealth redistribution” event Fox news has been promising is coming for the last 6 years.)
    .
    Maybe they only make 50 times what an entry level worker does . . . Oh the tragedy.

    Comment by MellyMel — 5:23 pm February 10, 2014 #

  16. Enacting a minimum wage 60% higher than surrounding communities will simply result in businesses locating outside of city limits. I imagine that areas close to the city boarder will be especially hard hit.

    I generally support a higher minimum wage, but not at the city level.

    Comment by sna — 6:08 pm February 10, 2014 #

  17. I think a bump to $11.50-$12.00 an hour would be reasonable and not as distressing to people. $15.00 seems steep and is close to what I make – and I have a college degree.

    Comment by Greta — 6:24 pm February 10, 2014 #

  18. Chances are those execs have a degree, so it’s possible for anyone to rise up the ladder if they try. I think that is the beauty of America, I’m all for helping people, I vote Democrat but I still do not think this is a good idea.

    Comment by C_T — 6:27 pm February 10, 2014 #

  19. People also have to understand that this would lead to wage inflation.

    You think the guy currently making $15/hour is going to stand pat? Hell no! Bump him up to $20! Making $20? Give him/her $25!

    End result. We all pay higher prices.

    You think wages/jobs are static? There is movement, people.

    If you want wage mobility, prove yourself. I did. Why shouldn’t you?

    Comment by Smitty — 7:09 pm February 10, 2014 #

  20. National discussion of $15/hr has picked up since SeaTac vote. This is so much bigger than just West Seattle. Businesses, large and small, are suppose to be risk managers. This discussion would be different if our country and its work ethic and reward system hadn’t been turned upside down in a way it never has been before. New problems need new solutions but MOSTLY we need to change our assumptions about “how it is suppose to work”. Because it has not worked. We have to ALL adjust and that’s gonna’ hurt somebody, somewhere.

    We all need to learn to share more pain of this upside down country. How much do you buy China every damn day? Think about *that*.

    Comment by wage "chat" is national — 8:10 pm February 10, 2014 #

  21. Woohoo! Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour!

    The theatre of unintended consequences will prove to be hilarious from my perch.

    And really, anybody who doesn’t understand that prices will rise as a correlate needs to take a deep hit off the smelling salts and step back into reality.

    Still, raise it up!

    It will provide entertainment for years to come.

    Time for me and Clyde to take a drive to the market for that loaf of rye we forgot earlier.

    Comment by Jeffrey — 11:00 pm February 10, 2014 #

  22. “and more than a bit ironic, pretty sure that no one who is in the category of our current min wage ($9.32/hr) could afford to pay the admission fee to this forum about min wage”

    Failing to the the irony. This is about the impact on businesses. You don’t think there are enough people out there, enough rallies, enough news coverage for people to get their message out about what they WANT.

    I’m not sure they have a place, unless they really care, what the impact is actually going to be on the communities they live in.

    Do they really care that this will put many of us out business? No, because we are the evil rich who, egads!, can pay $35 for a ticket to this discussion.

    I think most of us know what it is like to live on minimum wage. Most all of us have done it at some point in our lives, and some of us are lucky to be able to make that while we build our businesses.

    Comment by concernedbusowner — 9:13 am February 11, 2014 #

  23. Reality check: I made $10/hr at a silly merchandising job over 15 yrs ago. Like my husband said, you better put all your salary towards new tires for the car. (I had a territory that stretched from Olympia to the Kitsap Peninsula to Bellingham. Luckily, it wasn’t mandatory that I work. I enjoyed what I did. But it’s funny that $15/hr sounds extreme so many years later. There is obviously no comparison to what the military does and the meager wages they get. But that doesn’t translate to “therefore everyone should suffer”. The wasteful spending in the military benefits no one, especially those who serve. They deserve much better.

    Comment by Nancy — 9:17 am February 11, 2014 #

  24. my 1st receptionist job paid $10/hr (while I was in grad school, after a 20 yr career in restaurants); $10/hr seemed low to me at the time, after making more per hour based on server tips; that was 1990, when rents were avg $300, unlike the current rents of $1200 plus
    ~
    in 2014, I still see way too many “receptionist wanted” job ads with a $10/hr wage, with far more requirements in software and phone systems experience; that is insane
    ~
    $10/hr worked as an entry-level wage in 1990 (24yrs ago) when rent was average $300
    ~
    $10/hr does NOT work for anyone now when rent is $1200+ for a basic 1 bedroom, or studio, or apodment (yes, those supposedly “affordable” apodments are renting for $1200+)
    ~
    wages have clearly not kept up with inflation; every economic study has stated that Seattle’s “living wage” would be well above $15/hr (“living wage” defined as the wage required to live in Seattle)
    ~
    I’ve also been a business owner for much of my life; if you pay a reasonable living wage, you get experienced quality staff who perform well and stay with you; turnover due to low wages costs a business far more than paying a living wage; when staff are paid well, it’s better for your business; when staff have to worry about applying for food stamps or how to pay the rent or having to work while they’re sick because of no paid-sick-days, all that negatively impacts your business; happy & well compensated employees increase the bottom line of business; it’s reflected in how customers are treated, and the knowledge/service they are able to provide to customers, which increases profit; win/win
    ~
    the fear-mongering about how paying workers a living wage will somehow destroy business, sounds exactly like all the fear-mongering about how making restaurants and bars smoke-free would destroy business; that turned out to be completely false; after smoking was removed, the majority who do not smoke filled the restaurants and bars; I believe the same thing will happen when min wage is raised; businesses will have happier long-term employees who can better serve customers and increase profits; and guess what, employees will have extra money to buy goods at your businesses
    ~
    oh, and in 1990, gas was $1/gal; now more than 3 times higher; Seattle bus fares were $1, and we had a FREE RIDE AREA downtown; now the free ride area is gone and bus fares are more than 3 times higher; so min wage workers have to pay 3 times more just to get to their jobs
    ~
    all the basic needs for living (housing, transportation, food) have increased more than 3-fold, while the min wage has not kept up; Washington state min wage was $4.25 in 1990; if it were raised to match inflation, multiplied by 3, it would now be $12.75/hr; that would at least be a good starting point; even our Governor agrees

    Comment by Diane — 1:48 pm February 11, 2014 #

  25. Lots of good points made on both sides here. Just a quick data point. In 1990 the minimum wage in Washington State was $4.25. Adjusting for the consumer price index (according to the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ own calculator at (http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm) that has the same buying power as $7.58 in 2013.

    Based on that, the current Washington State minimum wage of $9.32 is 23% above the equivalent buying power in 1990.

    Looking at a few other years with the same calculation:

    1961: Wa Min Wage: $1.15, adjusted for CPI to 2013: $8.96

    1975: Wa Min Wage: $2.00, adjusted for CPI to 2013: $8.66

    2000: Wa Min wage: $6.50, adjusted for CPI to 2013: $8.79

    One stat in the grand scheme of things. The minimum wage may be lower or higher than needed, but it has been pretty consistent in terms of buying power for quite a while.

    Comment by Jackson — 11:44 pm February 11, 2014 #

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