Public Opinion on Minimum Wage

The OneSeattle Coalition today announced the results of a public opinion poll that showed a sharp decline in support for an immediate increase of the minimum wage. The poll, conducted by DHM Research between April 10-13, showed support for increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2015 with a phase for non-profits and businesses with 10 or fewer employees at 47 percent, with 48 percent opposed. DHM Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 likely voters in the city of Seattle. A previously released poll by EMC Research in January 2014 reported 68 percent support and 25 percent opposed. “This city is in the middle of an important debate about wages and how to address income inequality,” said Louise Chernin, president and CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association. “What these numbers show is that opinions are changing as more facts and analysis comes to light. We look forward to continuing the conversation and finding a way forward that works for Seattle.”

Minimum wage effects on small business

AFTER 22 years working as a server and bartender, I became a restaurant owner in 2011. It was a group effort, made possible by combining the finances and experience of longtime industry friends with the support of brave investors — a familiar story in the bar and restaurant business. Two years later, relying again on loans and investors, we opened our second restaurant and now employ 140 people. Our hope is that we can sustain these establishments and jobs, and continue to invest in the local community. The Seattle debate about raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour has left many restaurant and bar owners and employees hopeful for a pragmatic policy. We’re also concerned about the possibility of an ill-conceived plan based on ideology instead of practicality, especially when it comes to how tips are counted. Currently, all Seattle employees are paid at least the state minimum wage of $9.32 per hour. Servers, bartenders and other employees who receive tips make additional income on top of that wage, and the amount of tips can be substantial. Our tipped employees reported $1.5 million in tips in 2013. Much of the debate around the minimum-wage increase is whether to count these tips toward a potential higher local wage of $15. Whether the $15 wage takes effect immediately or is phased in over three or five years, we are potentially adopting an increase in absolute dollars greater than all of the Washington minimum wage increases of the last 25 years combined. Such a leap forward, from a position of already having one of the highest minimum wage levels in the country, is unprecedented. For our two restaurants, such a leap could have two very different outcomes. If tips were not recognized as income under a new minimum wage, our payroll would increase by $910,000. Eighty-two percent of that increase would go to a group of employees who averaged $23 per hour in 2013 when counting wages and tips. Tip income is taxed, reported to the IRS, appears on W-2 forms and is used by the state to calculate things such as unemployment benefits. If tip income were counted toward a new minimum wage, our business costs would increase $164,000. The money would go to those who don’t receive tips and currently make a flat wage of less than $15. This stark difference is what faces Seattle restaurants and bars of all sizes — a sweeping, massive, perhaps insurmountable increase on one hand or a focused, sizable, yet manageable increase on the other. The state already guarantees a solid wage for tipped employees, currently the highest effective tipped wage in the U.S. when cost of living is considered. U.S. Department of Labor data show that five of the top 10 paying metro areas for servers in the entire U.S. are located in Washington, and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett ranks No. 1 in the nation. The state minimum wage will continue to adjust for inflation every year. Many restaurant and bar owners, and I are […]

A New Minimum Wage

Even the savviest political consultants cannot predict what will happen next with Seattle’s Minimum Wage. The $15Now campaign has filed several petitions and will likely pursue a charter amendment for a vote of the people. If this occurs, there will be at least two more competing measures regardless of whether or not there is a decision by the City Council. Forward Seattle, the voice for Small Independent Business in Seattle, is proposing a straightforward increase in the minimum wage over the next five (5) years (by 2020) to $12.50 with no exceptions, no other compensation allowances. Voters must have this option made available to them. Let voters decide if they are satisfied with the compromises on the table. PRESERVE YOUR VOICE! Show your support by contributing toward the cost of filing a petition and signature gathering: JOIN FORWARD SEATTLE ‐ DONATE NOW We’ve met with experts, we’ve hired consultants, and we can make this happen with your support.

Referendum Update

Final numbers are in from King County Elections. While we fell short on signatures to compel the City Council to include Min Wage Ordinance 124490 on this November, 2014 election ballot, we’ve accomplished a lot. In just 21 days we raised $70,000, collected and turned in 18,929 signatures, per King County Election records – educated the public on the effects of this ordinance keeping this issue relevant and in the media both here in Seattle and Nationally. WE ARE NOT DONE. IT IS CLEAR HOWEVER THAT THIS CITY WANTS TO VOTE! Five more days and $30,000 and Forward Seattle would have been successful. TELL THE SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL & MAYOR YOU WANT TO VOTE! The City Council has two meetings scheduled before the November election deadline of August 5th: July 31st & August 4th. They have the authority to place this ordinance on the ballot for a vote of the people. Anyone can send an email. It’s imperative that we flood them with requests and apply public pressure to do the RIGHT THING. Don’t allow this City to fall victim to the rule of nine. Preserve your voice and express your outrage toward this City’s elected officials, their special-interest-policy-making practices and obvious dismissal in fulfilling the wishes of this city’s residents and voters. EMAIL & CALL THEM NOW and every day through the end of this month! Emails: ed.murray@seattle.gov, sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.gov, jean.godden@seattle.gov, bruce.harrell@seattle.gov, nick.licata@seattle.gov, mike.obrien@seattle.gov, tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov, kshama.sawant@seattle.gov Phone Numbers Ed Murray 206-684-4000 Sally Bagshaw 206-684-8801 Tim Burgess 206-684-8806 Sally Clark 206-684-8802 Jean Godden 206-684-8807 Bruce Harrell 206-684-8804 Nick Licata 206-684-8803 Mike Obrien 206-684-8800 Tom Rasmussen206-684-8808 Kshama Sawant 206-684-8016 Thank you to each and every one of you that have joined and supported our efforts to date and will continue to support us moving forward. Angela Cough & Kathrina Tugadi