Next round in minimum-wage fight: Charter amendment proposed for $12.50 by 2020

Two days after Mayor Murray signed the City Council-passed minimum-wage increase into law, a business group is trying to get an alternative onto the ballot via city charter amendment. The group calling itself Forward Seattle says it’s a coalition of independent businesses, with a counterproposal laying out 40-cent incremental increases resulting in a $12.50 minimum wage by 2020. It briefed citywide media this morning but hasn’t yet released the text of its proposal, nor does it have a public list of members/supporters. In addition to that, Publicola reports that Tim Eyman is now pursuing an initiative that would make it illegal for any entity but the state to mandate wage levels.

34 Replies to "Next round in minimum-wage fight: Charter amendment proposed for $12.50 by 2020"

  • Kit June 5, 2014 (3:15 pm)

    How do we support Forward Seattle? Is there something we can sign? Is there a movement to get a vote on it? Unfortunate about Eyman – I feel like he will screw up the potential of us being able to get rid of $15….he’s such a laughing stock now.

    • WSB June 5, 2014 (3:24 pm)

      Kit, the name on first reference is linked to their website, so I’m sure you can find out more about it there. “Charter amendments” usually need voter approval – for example, voters will choose 7 of the 9 city councilmembers by district next year because of the charter amendment passed by voters last year.

  • Morgan 5 June 5, 2014 (3:24 pm)

    Finally someone proposing a sensible plan. I’m all for it.

  • AmandaKH June 5, 2014 (3:29 pm)

    A $12.50 full time 40 hours a week wage is $25,500 / yr. Or approx $19,380 after taxes at 24% (pretty average). The average rent (in 2010)for a one bedroom apartment in Seattle is $1,024 ( or $12,288 / yr. You now have $7,092 left ($591/mo) of your pay. Need healthcare? How about utilities? What about a car, or riding the bus? What’s that? You want to eat? Thank goodness for the Food Bank.

  • Diane June 5, 2014 (4:04 pm)

    ok, I officially hate Tim Eyman
    Tim Eyman, go away

  • Ray June 5, 2014 (4:05 pm)

    And why should you dictate to me how I run my business?

    The concept of a living wage is just b.s. You (as in everyone) are not guaranteed anything in life. Seattle is an expensive city. Rent is high here. Gas is high here. Not everyone can afford to live here. We should not have to subsidize you so you can live here. You are taking money from me and my business, because of your decision to live here. There are plenty of other cities you can live in that are a lot cheaper. You are free to pursue those. Yakima, Bellingham, Spokane all have better costs of living than Seattle.

  • Diane June 5, 2014 (4:06 pm)

    and Amanda; they’re proposing $12.50 in 5-6yrs; how high will the rent be then?

  • Shotgun Shane June 5, 2014 (4:20 pm)

    Hey Ray. Who is going to do the lower paying work then if no one lives here? Ever think of that?

  • BT June 5, 2014 (4:34 pm)

    AmandaKH, someone with a minimum wage job should (a) find a better job, and (b) get roommates to split the rent. Just like millions of others have done before. How many businesses have you started? How many jobs have you created? How arrogant are you $15ers to presume to know the financial situation of small businesses? There are businesses that can not raise their prices or else customers will go outside the city or shop on the internet, and those businesses will have to shut down and everyone will lose their job. Is this something you have ever considered or do you just not care about that? Do you want a city where only big corporations can survive and small businesses are forced out? Again, the self righteous arrogance of others who have never created any kind of business or jobs is astounding. Take an economics class already!

  • Cecelia June 5, 2014 (5:01 pm)

    Are charter ammendments decided by simple majority or re they 2/3?

  • Ray June 5, 2014 (5:18 pm)

    I made no comments as to how I pay and reward my employees so do not assume what my pay scale is.

    What I stated and stand by is that “you” should have no say on my business structure.

    Making the assumption you have children, why should I not have a say in how they are raised at home? I pay for the many services via taxes (school, metro, etc.), so I should be able to have input specifically on how you raise your kids. You don’t like that, well, that is too bad. Same idea. You presume you are “owed” something and should be able to impact it.

  • AmandaKH June 5, 2014 (5:23 pm)

    BT. My husband owns his own business. I have been a bookkeeper for 15 years. I know a thing or two about economics and about being poor. I didn’t go to college, but worked my way to the position I am in. I’m part of the last generation to be able to do that. And that is the problem. An emphasis on a college education – where tuition has quadrupled from when I would have gone (20 years) and a lack of good, innovative jobs creates a stagnant job market. The rising cost of housing, food and living in a digital age has led to the disappearance of the middle class. I’m not sure $15/hr is the answer. I’d like to see affordable housing and public transportation improvements in tandem. But something has to change.

  • hj June 5, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    To take Ray’s argument in another direction– there are countries without a minimum wage. Why not move there?

  • Wes Cider June 5, 2014 (5:49 pm)

    This is the first time I will support a Tim Eyman initiative.

  • Craig June 5, 2014 (6:12 pm)

    I was hoping someone would take this on… if it makes the ballot, at least we’ll know what Seattle voters really think. I have a feeling it would be close, and just maybe common sense would prevail.
    Many states do prohibit local entities from setting their own minimum wage. At the state level, I’d be fine with Washington saying an entity’s minimum cannot exceed the state minimum by more than a certain percent… make it something reasonable like 10 or 20%. But yeah, I wish Eyman would take a back seat… at this point, he has become more of an issue than the real issue at hand.

  • beef June 5, 2014 (6:22 pm)

    tim eyman has no business doing in anything in this state. his property tax and car initiative got us into this mess in the first place. all he wants to do is make himself money. period.

  • ws16yrs June 5, 2014 (6:26 pm)

    How dare someone tell you how to run your business? That is a century old question. Back in the day, hotel owners took the City of Seattle to court because the city was mandating all rooms must have windows and no more than 20 to a room. Tuberculosis was rampant and this was a method to reduce exposure.
    Elsewhere, children and ponies were used to dig coal because the holes in the ground were too small for an adult.
    We now tell you that you can’t pack in the boarders and you can’t employ children. Now we’re going to raise the minimum wage because people who are employed should not be applying for government subsidized help just to exist.
    You don’t like it, I can tell. You want people to just move if they don’t like the wage? How about if the businesses that don’t want to pay move instead?

  • Really June 5, 2014 (7:24 pm)


    In what world do you think someone earning 25000 a year is paying 24% in taxes? Even with just a standard deduction it is no where near that.

    Let me educate you.

    A single filer pays 10% in income tax earned up to $9075.

    From $9075 to $36900 a single filer pays 15%.

    That is BEFORE their deductions. The standard deduction is $6200 in 2014. For a married or joint filer it’s even higher.

    So here’s the real rough math versus yours (and this is a simplification and probably high)

    25500-6200= 19300

    10% of 9075 = 907.50

    15% of 16425 = 2463.75

    2463.75+907.50 = 3371.25 in total taxes paid

    3371.25/25500 = 13.2%

    This is the problem with this issue. People are spouting off opinions and ignoring the facts. And most of the time their opinions have no basis in reality.

  • dsa June 5, 2014 (8:09 pm)

    ws16yrs, The problem is exactly as you stated: “How about if the businesses that don’t want to pay move instead?”
    The businesses that can relocate outside the city limits will do so, just as many corporations outsource labor overseas.

  • cascadianone June 5, 2014 (8:56 pm)

    There are many people who wish for a peaceful anarchy, a place where there are no taxes, no police, no zoning ordinances, no environmental codes. A place where every single road is a toll road, property rights are enforced at the barrel of a gun, insurance companies require you to get a Fire Service Retainer (no public Fire Dept, you see). And, of course, business owners are free to bring back racial segregation ALL BECAUSE you cannot tell them what to do. Ever. Under any circumstances. Even though you’ve already been telling them what to do since the first day they got a business license and a bank loan (or a Driver’s License, for that matter!).

    Of course, this country fought a civil war about most of these issues, much as the Romans decided where public right of way would go among the hordes of Gaul thousands of years ago.

    These business owners wail and nash their teeth about the minimum wage, point up at Corporations above and cry out about fairness, but it doesn’t absolve them of their own complicity in the system. “Go live in another town!”, they cry. But they agreed to live in a Democratic Republic, and in a City, no less, places with oligarchic systems of economic governance where the bribed officials choose winners and losers as the normal course of their business- politics. What to do??? Oh, the humanity!

    Here’s a possible solution- every single small business owner should liquidate their businesses and form a massive Corporate Collective. Raid a major mega-corp. Pick Comcast, they are a TERRIBLE Corporation! Take it away from them by pooling your resources to buy politicians and have some of your number installed in the FCC (that’s how they are stealing our net neutrality, after all).

    You’ll have killed several birds with one stone: You’ll be filthy rich, you’ll have stuck it to all those nasty poor people who were ruining your company AND you’ll be able to dictate to everyone else how to live the same way they were dictating your wages just a few years before.

    Of course, in order to enact this grand plan, you’d have to agree to work collaboratively with your fellow man… A nasty and therefore unlikely proposition, I know. But, them’s the breaks.

    Oh, wait, you’ll need to have some system of internal governance because there are so many of you: You can’t all be the CEO, after all. Somebody will have to take out the trash, take dictation and stack crates or whatever. You might even need technical skills, but it’s all for the best, so buckle down! If you don’t like it, there will be a living wage job waiting for you here in Seattle, after all.

    Good luck to you, intrepid small business owners! I know you’ll learn to thrive together in this new economy with your superior work ethic, God-given ingenuity and masterful grasp of Economic Theory. Ayn Rand and Freddy Hayak are watching over you, my little ubermensch. Get to it. :)

  • JanS June 5, 2014 (9:05 pm)

    hey…here’s an idea…let’s just leave things as they are.quit our bitching…status quo, so people are poor and can’t live..who really gives a damn? From the sounds of some people on here, that’s already been answered…..

    I’m almost embarrassed to call some of you my neighbors…

    and vote for something that Tim Eyman backs? Does he even know what a real job is? He sure does have some people snowed !

  • A June 5, 2014 (10:35 pm)

    Amanda, if I made minimum wage, I wouldn’t rent an “average” apartment; I would rent a cheaper-than-average apartment. Just like I would take the bus or buy a beater car. I’ve been a student living on very little and did just fine because I lived within my means. I had three housemates in a crappy house on a highway. I ate lots of pasta. I even saved up a little nest egg during that time.

  • Morgan 5 June 6, 2014 (5:33 am)

    I think everyone in Seattle deserves a puppy and unicorn too.

    Higher minimum wage means higher unemployment. More people making NO wage at all. It’s called Economics 101. Learn about it.

  • Finally June 6, 2014 (7:08 am)

    For the first time….. I’ll be in full support of Tim Eyman as well

  • DH June 6, 2014 (7:44 am)

    I look forward to a $15 min wage. The argument is always the same from businesses. They won’t be able to survive. Somehow they adapted to past changes and will to this too!

  • WestofJunction June 6, 2014 (9:01 am)

    The minimum wage was not intended to be other than an entry-level wage. If you have developed skills, then you will be paid accordingly. An increase merely hurts young people as well as people who have barriers to employment (police records, being out of the workforce for an extended period of time, disabilities, etc).

  • AmandaKH June 6, 2014 (10:19 am)

    Fine, tax assumptions aside Really, how much does your calculations leave you with at the end of the month? Even if you are only paying $800/rent, you have about $1,000/mo left. Yay, now you can eat ramen & maybe own a beater car! @A – when was that? The important part of my comments here is when you have $40k in college loans to pay off from your in-state Bachelor’s degree and maybe more because a lot of higher paying entry level jobs require a Master’s, you can’t possibly get ahead. How can you save to buy a house? Or a better car? Or have a savings account? We now have a situation where Greed is Good (neon is not the only 80’s thing back in fashion). Where the rich are getting impossibly richer not because they work harder, but because they can buy more loopholes and deductions (as Really I’m sure can tell us more about). There is no “catching up” anymore. There is no transition from irresponsible college graduate to successful professional these days. The poverty loop has extended to the middle class and I think that is the real problem.

  • Nope June 6, 2014 (12:55 pm)

    I can’t wait for the real estate market to recover a tad bit more so we can sell and move outside the city. I’m tired of getting mooched off of – and it’s only getting worse. I’m probably not alone. Eventually the well will run dry.

  • elikapeka June 6, 2014 (1:26 pm)

    For heaven’s sake, what’s next? Mandatory sick leave? Businesses will close, they’ll lay off employees, it will be a disaster! Oh, wait – you say Seattle did that already? Never mind.

  • Mongo June 6, 2014 (4:49 pm)

    Quote from AmandaKH: “important part of my comments here is when you have $40k in college loans to pay off from your in-state Bachelor’s degree and maybe more because a lot of higher paying entry level jobs require a Master’s, you can’t possibly get ahead.” I assume, when you decided to pursue your college degree, that you researched what jobs pay in that field. Did you really choose to take on $40K of debt in a field where jobs pay less than $15/hour?

  • AmandaKH June 6, 2014 (10:50 pm)

    @Mongo. As I stated above, I did not attend college. And I make well above the $15 / hr proposed minimum wage. My point is that my generation (X) will be the last to achieve this. Here is the tuition history for UW going back to 1994. It has literally Quadrupled in 20 years. Are kids getting a better education now? What is the possible reason for such an increase?
    Is it time to stop telling kids to get a college education? Or do we tell these State Funded schools to cut tuition rates so kids have a fighting chance?

    • WSB June 7, 2014 (12:53 am)

      Speaking as the parent of a college-age child: It’s insane.

  • A SMOKES June 7, 2014 (4:41 am)

    In my opinion, large businesses that take advantage of their employees, such as McDs or Walmart, should pay a better wage to their employees. If you work in a bar, like i do, we do not need or want a higher minimum wage because in the long run it would be a pay decrease. You don’t want to decrease my wages? Or do you?

  • James June 9, 2014 (8:32 am)


    Tuition has increased so much for the simple fact that the State of Washington is paying less to support state colleges. This has shifted more of the burden (through tuition payments (aka User Fees)) to the student.
    The state has found this an easier target for cuts come budget time, and therefore there has been an erosion over time of funding from the state.

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