Minimum-wage increase gets unanimous City Council approval

June 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 99 Comments

(Video of Monday afternoon’s council meeting, including minimum-wage vote and speeches)
3:42 PM: At a raucous City Council meeting – cheers, jeers, chanting – that is temporarily in recess before councilmembers move on to other business, the minimum-wage-increase bill has just received unanimous approval. It raises the minimum wage in steps – with large businesses at $15 in three years, smaller businesses in seven years.

4:41 PM: Lots of reaction to share, ahead:

*Seattle Times overview report
*Official council news release (erroneously dated, though)
*Councilmember Kshama Sawant‘s post-vote news release
*Councilmember Nick Licata‘s speech
*15Now announces victory party

Adding more …

99 Comments

  1. Welcome to Seattle: home of the $9 Big Mac. There will be one worker who takes your order and your money from one window, runs to the other window to give you your expensive food, and then runs back to the first window. That worker will also man the deep fryer when no cars are in the drive-thru.

    Comment by Bradley — 4:33 pm June 2, 2014 #

  2. As a small business owner, it amazes me how many people just assume I am going to eat these cost increases out of the good of my heart. I have no choice but to raise prices which will likely cut my revenues and profits. It may get to the point where I have to lay people off or relocate. Time will tell once the costs start actually hitting, but there are always unintended consequences of such good ideas.

    Comment by Ray — 4:39 pm June 2, 2014 #

  3. I like the idea of better wages but the audience at the council meeting acted like children. They need to listen and not over speak others on the microphone. It does not help there stance.

    Comment by WSEA — 4:39 pm June 2, 2014 #

  4. Bradley-
    I know for a first hand fact that Jack In The Box already does this in most of their locations. Since they went franchise in Washington state, the new owner/operator has raised prices 4 times in 2 years and reduced the number of work hours every quarter, telling his staff to produce more and no raises.
    I’m all for a fair rate of pay for a job, but I have to say, some jobs and some people might not be in the 15 per hour range. It will be very interesting to see what happens over the next few years…

    Comment by coffee — 4:55 pm June 2, 2014 #

  5. It’s unfortunate that a lot of the people that opposed this weren’t able to attend the meeting because they were hard at work at their day jobs or running their businesses. I worry about what this will do to Seattle over the next few years.

    Comment by AvalonW — 4:58 pm June 2, 2014 #

  6. I bet this thread break 100 replies.

    Comment by Eric — 5:03 pm June 2, 2014 #

  7. Not sure what to think about this. On one hand, employers should be paying living wages but on the other hand are we talking about 16 year old kids? Also will employers get any kind of break on the crazy taxes we are paying right now to the state and city of Seattle? I’m guessing no.
    .
    I won’t pretend to know how this is going to work out, I can see both sides here but I wonder if the workforce is going to actually suffer. It seems like if an employer has a budget of $X for labor, then he or she is going to want to get the most bang for their buck, so if you’re not an exceptional employee you might not be around long.
    .
    They already make it really hard for small businesses, I hope this move doesn’t just continue to push the little guys out.

    Comment by Jason — 5:11 pm June 2, 2014 #

  8. The terrorists HAVE won…

    Kidding aside, this is really an extremely misguided move IMHO. I am a marketing writer with more than 30 years in the biz. Though I am able to demand a much higher direct wage, there are similar writing jobs out there requiring a college degree and many years of experience paying only $25 an hour. Tell me how that is equitable to the (I suspect) uneducated person flipping burgers? I don’t think a rising tide floats all boats in this instance. Some businesses will simply sink. Bottom line, not every job is supposed to pay a sustainable living wage. Some jobs are supposed to pay entry level! Just dumb.

    Comment by No. No. No. — 5:24 pm June 2, 2014 #

  9. Those businesses that can do their work in Kent or Shoreline instead of Seattle will be looking for space there very soon. It would be an excellent time to invest in strip malls or light industrial real estate in those towns surrounding Seattle. Your investment will pay off handsomely as the exodus starts.

    Some jobs can’t move, like the fast food outlets. We can expect to pay more and wait longer for service there. It will be interesting to see whether those that offer coupons for their $3.99 combo meal add a disclaimer that those coupons are not valid within Seattle city limits.

    Fewer job opportunities and higher cost of living should, within a few years, put a big dent in the overcrowding problem that we all like to complain about here on the WSB. There’s always a silver lining in every cloud!

    Comment by Fat Slow Triathlete — 5:33 pm June 2, 2014 #

  10. Not all employee’s are created equal and that is what bothers me about this, there may be some good employees who were getting paid more or would have and now this may preclude that. Some people are simply worth more and if an employer wants to keep he/she around they will pay more for that person, but now with such a huge jump for everyone this may keep pay raises down for the employees who perform the best.

    Comment by anon — 5:40 pm June 2, 2014 #

  11. The positive side of this vote is that I won’t tip anymore.
    Put away your tip jars. You’re making a living wage now.

    Comment by No more tips — 5:44 pm June 2, 2014 #

  12. Well… I think the liberals mean well by the $15 minimum wage – Sadly, most of them don’t have a comprehensive grasp on economics. This wage increase is going to absolutely decimate this city in regards to living expenses. The middle class won’t be able to afford living here anymore, they’re done. Small businesses will fail. Jobs/people will be forced to flee.
    -
    It will be more expensive to live here than Hawaii, or San Francisco.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 5:44 pm June 2, 2014 #

  13. This will definitely cause gluten free offerings to cost much more.

    .

    Seattle is rapidly trying to become the next San Francisco, pushing the working class out of the city.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:50 pm June 2, 2014 #

  14. Like the poster said the other day, ( a Bizarre
    Corner of the Country)

    Comment by D.D.S. — 5:56 pm June 2, 2014 #

  15. This is absurd.

    I’m not sure why a fast-food employee deserves 15 bucks an hour. But whatever.

    Mediocrity gets rewarded.

    Supporters of this lunacy got on the “McDonalds is an evil empire” bandwagon and never gave a second thought to small businesses in the city.

    Business owners are going to shave off workers’ hours, raise prices, and we’ll all be in the same “quandary” we’re in now.

    I’m still wondering about those making $15 now. All that hard work and effort just went down the tubes. Shouldn’t they get a raise, too? Where’s it all going to end?

    This is just some juiced-up, let’s-get-all-warm-and-fuzzy, political stunt that is going to have lots of dire consequences that were foreseen by most business owners, but ignored wholesale by the 15Now crowd.

    Comment by XXX — 5:56 pm June 2, 2014 #

  16. Ray, I don’t believe anyone who thinks, thinks that business owners are just going to absorb these costs. That’s why we’ve been saying No!!! We hear you and concur. Good luck with your business and we will most likely be going out less and yes, tipping less!

    Comment by WSince86 — 6:01 pm June 2, 2014 #

  17. Well let’s not all hit the panic button just yet, lets stop running around with our dresses over our heads. First of all $15/hr is still just over $30k/yr it’s really not that much. While it may or may not cause some of the problems mentioned we don’t know yet, and let’s not assume our small business owners can’t persevere.
    .
    For once it would be so nice to hear some of you folks admit that you don’t know what the outcome will be and have a dialogue about it rather than just go to the worst possible scenario and be so firmly convinced that’s how things will play out, it’s really not becoming.

    Comment by Jason — 6:02 pm June 2, 2014 #

  18. This blanket “solution” for a problem of limited scope is a prime example of the lack of ingenuity and thoughtfulness constantly on display by this city’s leadership. This will certainly do good for many people who deserve a living wage, but the harm will outweigh the good. Fewer jobs and increased burden on everyone (including those who will be making more money).

    And what of the college educated person making $17/hr while her 17 year old cashier at Target makes $15/hr? If we’re talking about “fairness”, how is that fair? Where is the incentive to educate yourself and grow? Are we foolish enough to think that raising the minimum wage will raise all wages? On the contrary, I expect. If I was a high school student in Seattle, I would be thinking long and hard about spending money to go to college only to earn marginally more than the lowest paying jobs in the city.

    Comment by Paul — 6:07 pm June 2, 2014 #

  19. Well it was a measure introduced by a member of the Socialist Party (Sawant). When people accuse liberals of socialism, it’s not an unfounded accusation.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 6:07 pm June 2, 2014 #

  20. @Paul, I see your point – I would hope college educated people are making more than $17/hr but I’m sure in many cases, they are not.
    .
    Personally I’d think long and hard about going to college too, but not for the same reasons. The debt that many students come out of college with is absurd – I think you should go to college if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer but otherwise, really consider it. But then again what kind of high school kids are really making the right decisions when it comes to their education and financial future?
    .
    This is starting to sound a little like welfare debates though, where it’s assumed everyone wants a free ride or to be content with the minimal. Who really wants to make $30k a year and make egg mcmuffins their entire life? Not me, probably not most of you folks.
    .
    I am still concerned about what this means for businesses and employees. It might make the unemployment rate spike, it might crush some small businesses, it might only make the larger business gain a stronger foothold on our communities which just sucks. Hopefully not. Small business owners have some time to figure out how they’re going to make it work, if they’re going to just throw in the towel and not try to change things up at all well then I guess they can just roll over and die as victims.

    Comment by Jason — 6:28 pm June 2, 2014 #

  21. Once again our elected officials, with their re-election in mind, have voted on an issue based on who was the “loudest”. The current sense of “entitlement” among sectors of the citizenry is overwhelming. $15/hr wage is not a “given” – education,training, hard-work, setting a long-term goal are! I can not agree more with the other comment writers – Seattle will lose its’ middle class as a result. If you are living on a fixed income – it is already difficult. This is merely the beginning. Yes, history does repeat itself.

    Comment by Millie — 6:40 pm June 2, 2014 #

  22. sweet! i work in digital signage and my business just got a huge boost. i can install a self ordering tablet at the counter for about $300. My business will be BOOMING..time to get to work:)

    Comment by lucchese — 6:47 pm June 2, 2014 #

  23. AS I’ve stated many times on this blog, Seattle is totally mismanaged. Seattle’s leadership, if you can call it that, is weak at best. Those small businesses that are just making it are going to fold. Others are doing well but will move because they want to continue to do well. Remember all the mistakes that have been made by the city council when you next vote.

    Comment by Seattlite — 6:49 pm June 2, 2014 #

  24. this makes no sense, lower the cost of living not raise wages. If a fry cook fresh out of high school can now make $15 an hour, guess what, that skilled worker that went and got a degree or license will now need to be paid more then the normal wage of $15 an hour. No way can I pay a person the same amount as a fast food worker. I got people that spend their own free time getting educated and licensed, take full responsibility for the work at ALL times, spend their own money to take test and get a license, yet now an unskilled worker will be at the same pay scale. makes no sense.
    The pay gap will always exist, it’s an incentive to get a better job not stay in a entry level job for your entire life.

    Comment by monroe1200 — 6:52 pm June 2, 2014 #

  25. I remember a West Seattle restaurant owner predicting doom for his business when Rapid Ride re-aligned Avalon – oddly enough the restaurant is still in business. Costco pays way more than Wall Mart and still seems to keep making record profit – maybe if you run your business smart you won’t have to pay slave wages to those that actually do the work.

    Comment by David — 7:01 pm June 2, 2014 #

  26. I am not a small business owner, but when small businesses do whatever form of federal tax return they are required to file, depending on their category of small business (i.e., sole partnership, LLC, etc.) don’t they get to deduct wages as a cost of business, similar to marketing, promotion, postage, etc.? That may partially offset to a modest degree paying a higher wage.

    Comment by carole — 7:02 pm June 2, 2014 #

  27. Fifty years ago, the ruling socialists of Detroit turned one of the most promising cities on the planet into a vast wasteland of dilapidated slums and chronic despair. It took decades to move the auto industry out of Detroit because of the heavy manufacturing. On the other hand, the handful of big tech companies driving the Seattle’s economy can unplug and move with little notice. I am sure they mean well, but the City Council is casting the die to make Seattle into the “Detroit” of the 21st Century. “15 Now” is a clear message to small business owners and investors that more socialist legislation is on the way.

    Comment by Captain Dave — 7:04 pm June 2, 2014 #

  28. Tacoma and Bellevue thank you for pushing your businesses this way.

    Comment by TED — 7:04 pm June 2, 2014 #

  29. LOL @ peoples’ biggest concern with this important issue being a more expensive Big Mac.

    Comment by DP — 7:06 pm June 2, 2014 #

  30. With such opposition here on the WSB, I hope EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU gets out and VOTES THIS DOWN! If you really oppose it, you’ll vote… if you take no action other than commenting here, you’ve wasted everyone’s time. VOTE VOTE VOTE!

    Comment by Marty — 7:09 pm June 2, 2014 #

  31. Let me help some of you with math.

    Many small businesses only earn at best a few hundred thousand dollars per year in revenues. Rent/electricity make up a chunk, but salaries tend to make up the largest expense for a small business.

    Say a business employs 6 people.
    On a given day, 4 of the team works across 12 business hours.
    Each works 8-10 hours/day

    With this cost increase, using $5 (rounding $10-$15 to represent the minimum wage), daily costs to the business go up as follows:
    - 32-40 hours a day * $5 = $160-$200 additional expense per day due to salaries.
    - Multiply that by 6 days = $960-$1200 additional salary costs per month
    - Multiply by 52 weeks = $49920-62,400 increase in COSTS WITHOUT A SINGLE INCREASE IN INCOME.

    You have just added $50-62K dollars in gross expenses that impact revenues for a small business. This revenue is not offset by increased sales because the minimum wage was raised. The business owner could have used that money to expand the business, hire additional people (or retain existing people when the economy goes south), etc.

    This WILL cause many small businesses to let people go, relocate, or just close.

    Comment by Ray — 7:38 pm June 2, 2014 #

  32. Marty,

    This is not going up for a vote. The city is placing it into law.

    Comment by Ray — 7:39 pm June 2, 2014 #

  33. Gee!!! Now some friends can get off food stamps, and go out to coffee at lunch! or maybe dinner.

    Though i think if using the Consumer Price Index it would be $much higher.

    Indexed Automatic Adjustments–Washington St
    “Beginning January 1, 2001, and annually thereafter, the rate will be adjusted for inflation by a calculation using the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers for the prior year.”

    Comment by pattc — 7:41 pm June 2, 2014 #

  34. @ monroe1200 – how do we lower the cost of living?
    .
    @captain Dave – there are little if any tech companies paying lower than $15/hr in Seattle right now, why would they move?
    .
    @Carole – If you’ve registered a sub-chapter S election (LLCs can do this as well as actual S-Corps) the income is passed-through to the owner(s) / shareholders. You do get to take the salary from your profits. So essentially if youR business makes $1,000,000 and spend 500,000 in wages and 200,000 in expenses, you are taxed on the 300,000 in profits – if 1 person owns the company, then he or she would then pay the taxes on that sum just like they would any other earnings, on their personal taxes.
    .
    However, you know all those deductions that get taken out of your paycheck? Well that’s roughly half of what gets paid, your employer also pays close to the same amount in withholdings. Now put medical insurance on top of that and just overall pain, employing people kinda sucks.
    .
    On top of that, the city of Seattle takes a percent of GROSS earnings, say 1.5% (depends on the industry you are in) – so in the above calculation they’d get 1.5% of the 1,000,000 which is $15k.
    .
    So as you can see, owning a small business is very challenging. So shop local!

    Comment by Jason — 7:46 pm June 2, 2014 #

  35. @ScubaFrog, many liberals have a better grasp on economics than those hollering about this taking down civilization. The Economist, hardly a liberal rag, has this to say recently: “The Economist opposed the introduction of the minimum wage in Britain in 1999 on these grounds. In practice the picture is not so clear. No-one who has studied the effects of Britain’s minimum wage now thinks it has raised unemployment. Partly as a result of this experiment on our homestead The Economist has changed its mind. A colleague who surveyed the most recent evidence on employment found that some formerly implacable academic opponents of the minimum wage have softened their stance towards it, and that the IMF and the OECD both now reckon that minimum wages do little harm and may do some good.” (http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/05/minimum-wage)
    The biggest problem I see is that people may be under the misapprehension that raising the minimum wage will solve our problems of inequality and poverty at a stroke: it won’t, although it might be helpful.

    Comment by Julie — 7:50 pm June 2, 2014 #

  36. If you’re worried about a $20 cheeseburger… perhaps you should stop eating cheeseburgers.

    Comment by DTK — 7:56 pm June 2, 2014 #

  37. Amen, Captain Dave. Well said and accurate too.

    Comment by Seattlite — 8:07 pm June 2, 2014 #

  38. Let’s look at at the net earnings of a McDonald’s franchise. A franchisee can easily take a hit on personal income and pay the higher wages. The workers with higher wages will not need as many food stamps or subsidized medical care. They will pay more sales taxes by purchasing more goods. The business model of these franchisers and Walmart is immoral. It depends on our tax dollars to provide their workers with food stamps, school lunches, emergency room care, medicaid and other relief programs.

    Comment by OS — 8:26 pm June 2, 2014 #

  39. You can say goodbye to 15% tip.

    Comment by Jhun — 8:33 pm June 2, 2014 #

  40. Seattlite, the cap’n and you are both leaving out the fact that most tech workers are making $60k+ (on the low end) a year in Seattle right now.
    .
    Most software developers are earning $100k+ and the unemployment rate for those jobs is next to nothing. This will literally change nothing for most Seattle tech companies.

    Comment by Jason — 8:37 pm June 2, 2014 #

  41. Has anyone given any thought to businesses other than the evil burger joints?

    What’s going to happen to places like the YMCA, or day care places? Most likely they’ll slash, or outright eliminate programs. Day care for the kiddies won’t stay the same price…

    The pro-$15 crowd, conveniently keeps this stuff out of the conversation. It’s all about the satanic restaurants and their evil owners who they essentially make out to be making Paul Allen-esque earnings on the backs of the misfortunate.

    Comment by XXX — 8:52 pm June 2, 2014 #

  42. $5.00 Pint of beer 2014
    $8.00 Pint of beer 2017
    Thank you Kshama Sawant

    Comment by Cost of a Beer — 8:58 pm June 2, 2014 #

  43. So our city council just determined that the minimum value for labor (regardless of skill, experience or attitude) should be arbitrarily increased by more than 50% from the current minimum threshold — also set by government.

    Why stop at price controls on labor? Let’s go all the way. I need a new car. Why doesn’t the city council mandate that those greedy car dealerships sell cars for $10,000 — regardless of the type of car? Sound ridiculous? I agree. But no more ridiculous than what the city council did today regarding the sale of labor.

    Comment by Jim McIntyre — 9:00 pm June 2, 2014 #

  44. Will the last small business in Seattle turn off the lights when you leave. And the problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

    Comment by alki warrior — 9:04 pm June 2, 2014 #

  45. Carole,

    Yes, businesses – such as sole proprietorships – can generally deduct labor and payroll taxes. Of course the the value of that deduction will depend on the owner’s marginal tax rate.

    What is always purposefully not addressed by supporters of $15/hr is that we already have an-poverty measure in place, and it has been around for a long, long time. The EIC. The EIC was conceived to address regressive taxation, eg payroll taxes. For many poor families, particularly single parents with children, it is equivalent to having a PT job that they never have to spend an hour working at. A single parent with several kids making in the mid-teens, can receive upwards of $6,000. This effectively offsets payroll and sales taxes. Of course, in addition, those in this salary range pay no fed or state income tax.

    And to commentators who are turning up their noses at small businesses worried about absorbing increased labor costs….what incredible, snarky, hubris.

    Comment by G — 9:15 pm June 2, 2014 #

  46. Wheee, reading those comments was fun! I can’t decide what I enjoyed more: the apocalyptic exaggeration (“Get ready for the $9 Big Mac! – as if the world will come to an end if we can’t get 2 greasy beef patties on 3 pieces of bread with cheese and sauce for under $5), the factually wrong claims based on pre-existing ideological beliefs (the legislation was actually introduced by Mayor Murray), or the spouting of economic knowledge by people who have none (too numerous to mention).

    Meanwhile, all the supporters of paying a decent wage for a hard day’s work are too busy celebrating to reply. Good for them – and good for our city – I haven’t been this proud to live in this city for 15 years.

    Comment by socamr — 9:29 pm June 2, 2014 #

  47. @ Julie -

    When you claim that The Economist is “hardly a liberal rag”, then then we can’t take the rest of your post seriously.

    Comment by fauntleroy fairy — 9:31 pm June 2, 2014 #

  48. While I am certainly not against a living wage for folks, I still don’t know how to feel about this decision. Most of my staff makes over or close to what will be my starting point of minimum: $11/hour. I just don’t understand what this will do to the teenage (high school) population of workers. I really enjoy employing teenagers and teaching them how to work. Over the last 7 years I have many success stories and hear from them how much they learned working while in high school and college. Will this increase move them out of the work force? I had a customer tell me the other day (driver for FedEx – well over 21) “I’ll take a second part time job at night for $15 an hour, why not?” Let’s just not discount the value of having skilled young people come up and grow in the work force. Not to mention some of them who really need the money. But would my business be better served by an “adult” with experience and education??

    Comment by DBurns — 9:52 pm June 2, 2014 #

  49. @DP…yes…I agree…who gives a damn about the price of McDonald’s burgers. They will go up whether the minimum changes or not. I love how no one is concerned about the poverty in this country. I also love that not one naysayer on here can see into the future. Not one actually knows what will happen to businesses, big or small. Not one really knows if this city will “turn into Detroit”.

    It sickens me that not one talks about the profits of big business while keeping their own employees on welfare wages, and even some having a food bank for their employees. Because that’s the “Murican Way…free enterprise and all. (free for who – or is that whom?)
    No, no..let’s just blame those ignorant, socialist libtards who are doing everything to make this country fail.

    I’m with socamr on this …

    Comment by JanS — 10:08 pm June 2, 2014 #

  50. My favorite part in all this is that DESC with its history of preying on impoverished neighborhoods takes issue with the $15 minimum wage. They can help the poor as long as they keep everyone who works there poor (except Bill, who makes bank.)

    Comment by MyEye — 10:12 pm June 2, 2014 #

  51. and, yes, always shop local if you can….and I don’t mean at your local Whole Foods….I mean really LOCAL….

    Comment by JanS — 10:14 pm June 2, 2014 #

  52. Speculating on the price of Big Macs is suitable here because: 1: the people pushing for the $15 an hour for unskilled labor were targeting McDonalds 2: It’s a price for an item that most people can relate too, like the “loaf of bread” analogy 3: Fast food and the popular “dollar menus” are going to be one of the first places consumers are going to notice the impending higher prices.

    Comment by Bradley — 10:18 pm June 2, 2014 #

  53. I believe they mentioned a sub-minimum wage (is there such thing as sub-minimum!?) for teenagers but I haven’t found what that rate is.
    .
    I also have mixed emotions about it, DBurns. But hey very cool of you to employ and train teenagers I hope that continues to work out. I certainly see the value in learning to work, I’m thankful for the past jobs I’ve had and the companies and individuals that gave me opportunities.

    Comment by Jason — 10:19 pm June 2, 2014 #

  54. >>>It sickens me that not one talks about the profits of big business while keeping their own employees on welfare wages, and even some having a food bank for their employees. <<<

    How many "big businesses" are in the city limits? A few fast food chains (which are actually franchisees, but that matters to nobody, apparently)? Target? Whole Foods? Some car repair places (franchisees, too)?

    I'd love to see these pro-$15 folks go into any Junction small business and ask the owners what they think about this.

    The pro-$15 crowd creates a smokescreen of "well, if you can't handle this, you shouldn't be in business" garbage, when most, if not all, have no clue; no inkling; nary a care, about how running a small business with employees works.

    Gimme gimme…

    Comment by XXX — 11:24 pm June 2, 2014 #

  55. I wonder how many people working in Burien are looking forward to taking these jobs that pay $15 / hour just across the city line? Sorry minimum wage Seattle workers, you just got a lot more competition for your job.

    Comment by Mike — 11:44 pm June 2, 2014 #

  56. @ Cost of Beer. Haven’t you been in downtown lately and gone to the Yardhouse yet? Beers are $8 there.

    Comment by alki warrior — 12:16 am June 3, 2014 #

  57. I will expect the same percentage wage increase as these people getting increases. So if I’m making say 25.00 per hour than I should be getting 40.25 in 5 or 7 years.

    Comment by S — 12:22 am June 3, 2014 #

  58. This is all over-the-top HILARIOUS!

    Add in the river of unintended consequences and it only gets better.

    Hilarious.

    Comment by Jeffrey — 12:37 am June 3, 2014 #

  59. In Dec 2005 I made $11.25/hr working at Sam’s Club in North Seattle (nothing special, worked at the gas station and eventually the tire shop). It’s been 8.5 years since then and in 3 more years from now, large companies will need to pay $3.75 more / hr than that. I have no doubt that large companies can afford this. I do wonder about small companies though, although I believe they will be able to adapt in the next 7 years. Automation will be a big part of this. If your job involves redundancy and involves you touching a computer, I almost guarantee I can automate it. If you are wondering how to make ends meet, I honestly would consider lowering your expectations. My wife and I currently live in 360 sqft even though I now make over $50 an hour. I will never buy a McMansion because I don’t want to be a slave to my mortgage or the maintenance costs of even a moderately sized home. This culture of huge homes and dual income robots is unsustainable. There is a big difference between being able to pay for something and being able to afford it. If my wife and I are blessed enough to have children we will definitely be moving outside of the city so we can live within our means.

    Comment by alkiruse — 12:50 am June 3, 2014 #

  60. As a small local business owner in West Seattle I would like to bring to the attention of all employees.

    It bothers me how people don’t realize business owners pay the employees hourly rate on top of that we pay the City of Seattle charges for business licence, master business licence, labor and industry’s fees, excise taxes, B and O taxes, quarterly and monthly taxes.

    A $10.00 employee actually cost the employer with all fees, taxes, insurance, labor and industries. Your paying them $16.00 an hour to cover all expenses not including health insurance.

    Why own a business if McDonald’s is going to pay me $15.00 bucks an hour.

    This isn’t skilled work (sorry) my 10 year old can run a McDonald’s better than the one on Barton.
    Why should they should try to excel in life. I just got the golden tickets.

    My first job as a high school student I was paid $4.00 an hour, I understand this was in 1995. But I learned the valve of a dollar and a honest days worth of work.

    Sorry kids now days have there noses in I pads and phone and don’t have people skills they have no clue how to interact with real people. This is the new generation.

    Seattle is only in for big business not the the small business people who really makes this city move forward.

    Lets keep making the rich richer and how many more homeless camps we can build for 2015.

    Squeeze out the middle class. Here you have the option of being homeless or rich rich rich there’s no in between here.

    I am not opposed to to higher minimum rage, but unless the city wants to give small business a break I see a lot of business moving out of this state and with that we take our companies and jobs with it.

    Seattle is going to putting all small business out of service. That leaves us all the corporations behind.

    Comment by Rob — 1:45 am June 3, 2014 #

  61. Socamr

    I liiiiiike your way of thinking!!! Greedy capitalists!! This is a victory for THE PEOPLE!!!And it is good….because we did it TOGETHER!!! AS ONE!!!! All on an equal plane, none above the other!!

    Id write more, but I gotta take care of a little business with these GREEDY ukranian farmers……imagine….wanting to keep what they have produced….have you ever heard of such a thing???

    Comment by Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili — 4:50 am June 3, 2014 #

  62. I just fired all of my employees. Thank you. Or better yet-they can thank you.

    Comment by Rick — 6:03 am June 3, 2014 #

  63. $15/hr. = the golden ticket? SMH @ that.

    Comment by DP — 6:26 am June 3, 2014 #

  64. MyEye is right on the money regarding DESC and Bill Hobson. It is funny listening him bitch about how it isn’t his problem to figure out how he is going to afford the cost of this increase, but it is the city’s problem. Disgusting. Here comes Detroit…

    Comment by Buckwheat — 6:40 am June 3, 2014 #

  65. @julie – FYI – The Economist is ABSOLUTELY a “liberal rag”. You are a prime example of a problem I see in this city of people not knowing enough to realize they don’t know what they’re talking about. City council is another example.

    Comment by Nope — 6:52 am June 3, 2014 #

  66. And what about affordable retirement living for seniors. If the Kenney or Daystar needs to pay $15 an hour for someone to call numbers at Bingo or wheel someone to dinner, daily rates for residents will skyrocket. Just one example.
    In the bigger picture, Seattle has so many problems and issues, like fixing potholes or patrolling 35th for speeders, or funding community centers. The minimum wage will have to be enforced; which means more bureaucrats in an enforcement office which means more of our tax dollars diverted from other necessary programs. sigh.

    Comment by iggy — 7:26 am June 3, 2014 #

  67. Some of these comments are (inadvertently) hilarious. Will the Chicken Littles reconsider and admit you were wrong when the sky doesn’t fall? Because it won’t, you know.
    .
    And really: let go of the idea that certain jobs are “worth” certain amounts of money, or that jobs somehow reflect our worth. What we get paid is what we negotiate for and what the system will bear.
    .
    So we just shifted the crony capitalism downward a bit, as opposed to all the systems and policies that have shifted it UP the last 15 years. That alone makes me smile.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 7:59 am June 3, 2014 #

  68. “I just fired all of my employees. Thank you. Or better yet-they can thank you.”

    Just like that, eh? Has the new law even been put in place, yet?

    Comment by DP — 10:20 am June 3, 2014 #

  69. My favorite is people who think that folks who are currently on welfare and/or a subsidization of some sort will suddenly be able to get off of it, and go out and spend money in our economy. No they won’t! They’ll be taken off of assistance because of how much they’re making and prices will SKYROCKET, therefore…they will still not be able to afford anything. And honestly, 30k a year is absolutely appalling for restaurant workers, for gardeners, etc. I’m so saddened by this. We, as a city, are going to experience some major pain.

    Comment by JM — 11:23 am June 3, 2014 #

  70. Anyone who posted that because of this minimum wage raise they will stop tipping should be ashamed of themselves. You know you never tipped to begin with anyway – but still, what a horrible position to take.

    People screaming that the sky is falling are completely out of touch with the value of a dollar. $15 isn’t much these days, maybe it was in 1995 – 20 years ago when you got your start as a young worker – but it’s not anymore. Thank whomever you blame for the failed economy and pitiful value of the US Dollar today.

    Rob – it’s called a fully burdened labor cost, is a very basic concept of running a business with employees.
    It should be every small businesses goal to pay their employees MORE than the minimum wage, as much as possible in fact, assuming you value them and understand that without them you would certainly fail. If you don’t need employees then this shouldn’t hurt you at all right?
    If you think $5 per employee per hour is going to break your business, you don’t have a very solid business model.

    Some of you small business owners should know that you sound like you hate your own employees, hate employing people in general, and blame them for your financial shortfalls and imminent failures.

    Employers are lucky to have people working for them, it’s not the other way around. If you think you are somehow doing an employee a favor by “giving” them a job, you are very much mistaken, and likely have a hard time finding and keeping loyal employees.

    Comment by zark — 12:01 pm June 3, 2014 #

  71. @Rick “I just fired all of my employees. Thank you. Or better yet-they can thank you.”
    .
    Really, you claim you fired all your employees a solid 11~ months before the new minimum wage kicked in, presumably exploding your entire business to the point of irrelevance and nothingness and total economic failure. Because… why? Politics? Spite? Sociopathy?
    .
    Or, perhaps — if you had any employees at all, in reality, and this isn’t random nonsense? — you didn’t need any employees at all for your business to begin with and have been foolishly wasted money for n years on people you didn’t need to hire anyway? Good grief.

    Comment by Joe — 12:30 pm June 3, 2014 #

  72. Obviously Rick is a phony or a lunatic, small businesses won’t see this increase for 7 years. And again everyone they are going to do a lower minimum for teenagers. The biggest issue I see here is people seem to think its “not fair” for people to make $15/hr when they started at $4.50.
    .
    When I started working minimum wage was something like $3.35 or $3.65 or something and my first full time job I started at $5. So @Rob, if you want to fold your business to work for McDonald’s well frankly you’re not very Entrepreneurial if $30k/yr is more attractive to you than running a business.
    .
    @JM are you saying $30k a year is too much for these folks? That’s what makes you sad? hahaha.. First of all what I find sad is how willing everyone is to put a value on people and their jobs. Second, everyone needs to really look at their standards if they think $30k/yr is a lot of money – all you economists here are so smart you must be pulling at least 5x that so what do you care?
    .
    @zark, it reallly is challenging to employ people and the relationship between employer and employee can be very complicated. I’m not saying you’re right or wrong, just that it’s challenging to be on any side of the coin.

    Comment by Jason — 1:23 pm June 3, 2014 #

  73. I did a ‘searchword’ ‘tip’ and from the comments it looks like servers will make this min. wage too.

    when I waited tables through college and for a couple years after (had 2 jobs at a time after college), my server wage was half of min. wage, so $2.13 an hour and the rest was ‘tips.’

    Seems luxurious to wait tables for $15/ hour and then expect tips on top of that.

    And before anyone points out the ’2 jobs’ -it wasn’t cause I had to, it was cause I wanted to take out as little of a student loan as I had to in order to go to grad school.

    When I finished grad school, I was making about $ 14.50/hour (that was in my field. and for your reference zark this was about 10 years ago, but hey I knew my field wasn’t a money-maker).

    my family will have to stop eating out. Oh well, we’ve made a cut back once before- now we can just go out on REALLY special occasions.

    Maybe I can get a 2nd job at min. wage to be able to afford childcare so that I can work the first job. Oh wait.. then I’ll need childcare for the 2nd job……
    Oh wait…

    Hey, anyone wanna buy a tiny house? This middle classer maybe is going to move.

    Or maybe I can go back to waiting tables….

    Comment by sam-c — 2:05 pm June 3, 2014 #

  74. What’s a better deal?
    $10.25 per hour, Plus medical, 401K and paid vacation or your hours cut to less then 30 hours a week. $15.00 hour and NO Medical, NO 401k, No paid time off. No nothing.. you get $15 an hour. BTW, since you make more then Federal minimum wage..You will be paying for your own Obama health care.

    Comment by Bad Idea.. — 2:06 pm June 3, 2014 #

  75. So many victims here. It’s interesting that the same people claiming $15/hr is too much are the same ones saying it means death to the middle class. So are you guys saying $15/hr is still not middle-class? How is it that so many of you know the future? “Bad idea” knows that everyone that makes $10.25/hr with benefits today will make $15/hr with no benefits 7 years from now. Amazing. Some of you should go on some college public speaking tours with all this vast knowledge, you can make way more than $15/hr there.
    .
    I find it most sad that everyone is just willing to roll over and die at the first sign of any change – we should be much better than this, especially all of the folks that believe so strongly that gardeners and food service workers don’t deserve $15/hr. I mean you guys should be able to make endless amounts of dough with your work ethics and smarts so why do you even care?

    Comment by Jason — 2:46 pm June 3, 2014 #

  76. Mmmm, I love the idea that standing on your feet for 6 hours is ‘luxurious’. Yes, no doubt in four years we will see a mad rush of people quitting other jobs to take those “luxurious’ jobs waiting tables for $15/hour plus tips.

    Comment by socamr — 3:59 pm June 3, 2014 #

  77. shoot, yeah 6 hours DOES sound luxurious. when I did it, it was more like 6 pm til 2 am (ie, 8 hours) including waiting tables up a flight of stairs, and THEN completing closing duties for another ~1.5 hours including lots of putting chairs on tables, sweeping and mopping… getting home near 4 am and waking up 7 am to go to my day job. never needed to work out – got all my exercise at work !

    Comment by sam-c — 4:18 pm June 3, 2014 #

  78. Zark – spoken like someone who has no idea what the profit margins are for small business- assume you have never signed a paycheck. You haven’t a clue how scary this sounds for us. Every week at payroll we are a bit worried – sometimes in the red for months and months. Don’t you get it? Most of us don’t even make 30-40K a year!! If that makes our model flawed, agree. I wonder sometimes if it’s worth it and maybe I should go back and just get a real job – you know work for “The Man”

    If we go with the logic that that if everyone is making more it will all even out in the end, because we will spend more, then why stop at $15? Why not make $50 dollar? Seriously, why not 50 now!! 50 now!!

    Comment by crazy logic — 5:04 pm June 3, 2014 #

  79. socamr, it’s $15/hour and must restaurants will goto a NO TIP policy.

    Comment by Bad Idea.. — 5:10 pm June 3, 2014 #

  80. Now I can raise the rents in my apartments. Thanks Kashama!!!

    Comment by m — 5:35 pm June 3, 2014 #

  81. http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/06/03/stop-demonizing-burger-flippers-and-start-thinking-about-solutions

    Comment by JanS — 5:41 pm June 3, 2014 #

  82. What a circus of a public city council meeting! Seattle should be ashamed. Sawant says she supports the plight of the worker, yet she is in the upper echelons of the elite. There will always be greedy corporations and people. There will always be some level of social and economic inequality. The best we can do is to make our communities stronger and thriving places where people of all backgrounds can live. It is not about taking down the corporations, but rather helping each other.

    Comment by T — 7:59 pm June 3, 2014 #

  83. making 40K a year is in the upper echelons of the elite? I understand that she has chosen to not take the salary that other councilpersons have decided to take. She only wants what will be fair for food, rent, etc. I could be wrong, but that’s the way I understand it.

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/27/22472667-seattles-socialist-councilwoman-to-accept-less-than-half-of-117k-salary

    Comment by JanS — 10:45 pm June 3, 2014 #

  84. JanS, She has a lot more in the bank to live off of and $40k won’t cover her condo mortgage. If you do your research you’ll see her tax filing that’s required when you run for government office. Then you can look at the purchase price of her condo. Keep in mind that she still claims her ex-husband as part of her tax filing so, technically, she had additional income that’s not part of her government salary that she’s giving a portion of to her socialist non-profit organization friends. She’s not exactly a saint.

    Comment by Mike — 11:23 pm June 3, 2014 #

  85. nor are any of us….

    I’m sure you are aware that she has been separated from her husband for quite some time, and does not share his salary. You do know that…right?

    Comment by JanS — 1:05 am June 4, 2014 #

  86. Do the math people…
    Lets say a sandwich shop owner clears $40,000 per year in profit.
    Lets say there are two workers per day who used to get $10 now get $15… And they both work 8 hours a day…
    In 365 days that is an additional $29,200 leaving the owner only $10,800 profit per year…
    Guess what that business is shutting down and the two sandwich makers are out a job al together…
    Of course this is simplified but you get the idea…

    Comment by Marcel — 7:26 am June 4, 2014 #

  87. With everyone making predictions for the future, dire ones at that, I thought maybe this was a gathering of psychics. People are still flocking to Seattle to make it their home. No one is forcing anyone to stay here you can move if you like and so can I. If you are one to visit fast food places then you know there are senior citizens who also work there not just teenagers. Those against people eking out a living on $15.00 minimum wage (remember this is 2014 not the 1970s when some of us grew up) should try and live on $2,000 a month. And try it for at least 6 months then come back and comment.

    Comment by WS since '66 — 10:52 am June 4, 2014 #

  88. Your favorite coffee drink..
    Before $15/hr $4.65
    After $15/hr $7.95

    The business owners are going to the consumer….
    Seattle is small business un-friendly.

    Comment by Bad Idea.. — 11:18 am June 4, 2014 #

  89. Let’s not lose sight of the time horizon for phasing in this increase – between 3 and 7 years, with the longest phase-in for smaller businesses exactly so they can avoid the kneejerk “fire everyone/double our prices” responses projected here, and instead can strategically manage their costs like the smart, successful business managers they are.

    Prices WILL rise over the next seven years, just as they’ve risen over the last seven years. Also market shares will change and market sizes will change, because that’s what happens over time – with our without this law. Smart businesses will harness these evolutions and figure out how to increase revenue without simply doubling prices. Less smart businesses will wither and die, as they should if they can’t compete. And the REALLY smart businesses will work with their employees instead of against them in innovating their way to increased productivity and reduced costs. It’s not a zero sum game.

    Comment by CF — 11:54 am June 4, 2014 #

  90. Bad Idea,

    You are sugesting that there will be a 71% increase in the price of a coffee. There will be a 61% wage increase (from $9.32 to $15.00). While wages are a large component of cost related to producing the cup of coffee, it does not include the raw materials, physical structure, etc…

    The company providing the coffee drink will also do a market analysis on how much they can charge for a cup of coffee to maximize their profits. They may decide that a $7.95 coffe will not yield enough customers to maximize their profits. That will depend on the consumer, and whether or not they will decide that there is value in that cup of coffee at $7.95.

    I’m not arguing that there won’t be price increases. The price increases just might not be linear or as predictable as one might think.

    Comment by James — 11:59 am June 4, 2014 #

  91. well, however this all turns out , there seems to be a new business popping up in West Seattle for a lot of people to be employed….the biggest psychic network ever…since you all can see into the future so clearly. Let me know when you set up shop :-\

    Comment by JanS — 1:01 pm June 4, 2014 #

  92. What about the college grads that will be lost in the fold? They did not pay 30 or 40k to make the same as a retail or fast food worker. People with little education and experience will be hit most by this law. Education and experience are essential assets on the job market. I currently hold two Bachelor’s degrees. I know people are not “worth” any dollar amount, but people should be rewarded for a college education. This law is a free handout essentially to those who work these jobs. I sure as heck would not want to work minimum wage my life. How soul sucking. That is my opinion. I lifted myself out of poverty through working minimum wage jobs, hard work, gaining experience, and getting an education. This bill is about “bringing down the large corporations”, even though most McDonalds and Subways are independent franchises. What constitutes a living wage? I currently make the “living wage”, and live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe have $150 after rent, food, gas, and bills. This is a misguided bill that needs further consideration.

    Comment by T. — 2:13 pm June 4, 2014 #

  93. Why isn’t there outrage about exorbitant CEO salaries?

    Comment by hourly worker — 8:36 pm June 4, 2014 #

  94. “I’m sure you are aware that she has been separated from her husband for quite some time, and does not share his salary. You do know that…right?”
    .
    You do realize she does not live with him but still files taxes with him, right?

    Comment by Mike — 9:18 pm June 4, 2014 #

  95. I remember when I worked at McDonald’s labor was less than 20 percent of revenue, so doing some basic math we can figure a 10 percent increase in price would offset that. Plus I would imagine more competition will mean higher productivity. Judging by the over arching theme of the majority of the comments here, basic math skills and conservative political views are somehow incompatible… Unfortunately, this phenomenon is localized to this website, and the smart ones use the money they have cleverly acquired or more often inherited to trick the rest of you into voting for people that don’t have your best interests at heart.

    Comment by freemyn;&&@z — 11:29 pm June 4, 2014 #

  96. Don’t forget, we voted on this last November, and it passed.

    Also, people getting paid better will mean they’ll be able to buy more, which will help the economy.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 9:00 am June 5, 2014 #

  97. Just a note, the city of SeaTac voted on $15/minimum in November. That was the extent of it at the time.

    Comment by WSB — 9:32 am June 5, 2014 #

  98. Oops! Sorry about that! Thanks WSB!

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 10:24 am June 5, 2014 #

  99. Restaurant labor is, on average, approx. 32% of gross revenue, according to National Restaurant Association, FYI.

    http://www.ehow.com/info_8458172_average-labor-cost-restaurants.html

    Comment by James — 12:27 pm June 5, 2014 #

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