April Meeting and the Minimum Wage Issue

Our next meeting will be devoted to the issue of a $15/hour minimum wage, and how it affects Cap Hill. We will have people from varying sides of this issue to present and answer questions: a representative from Councilmember Sawants office, representatives from local business, from SEICU, and hopefully more.
This is an important topic, and we want your voice to be heard.

Thursday April 17th, 6:30 Cal Anderson Park shelter house

6:30-6:45 Announcements and quick bylaw vote
6:45-6:50 Alyssa Introduces Minimum Wage & Capitol Hill Panel and Lays Ground Rules
6:50-7:00 Ted Virdone, Legislative Assistant to Kshama Sawant provides updates/overview of issue
7:00-7:25 5 minutes per panelist for intro and position statement
7:25-7:35 Panelists Address pre-determined clarifying questions from Council
7:35-8:00 Q&A open to all

Panelists:
-Jess Spear, Organizing Director 15 Now
-Volunteer, 15 Now
-Michael Wells, Director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce
-and more.

This proposal is still fluid – we need your input!

April 17, CaL Anderson Park shelter house 6:30

One thought on “April Meeting and the Minimum Wage Issue”

  1. I own a local business with 30 part time employees. We’ve been in business since 2007. We now pay $15hr (plus tips), but we couldn’t have done this when we started our business; in fact, it has taken us until about 6 months ago for us be able to make this wage increase work with the way we do business. I am really concerned about what Sawant is pushing for because I don’t think she has ever ran a small business or started a business from the ground up. I like the passion behind the movement for $15hr, and I agree that wage inequality is real and a consciousness shift needs to occur, but the way to do this isn’t to crush small businesses and our local economy.

    My company can’t help but be involved with this conversation and we can’t help but see it from both angles: from the employee/worker rights angle, but also from the small business angle. The debate is tugged in two different directions, both of which are real and true.

    The truth is that a $15hr wage is barely enough to survive in Seattle. And I think that we can all agree (even those that disagree) that wage inequality is a global issue that has to be addressed. As well, we live within a global economy where employees are seldom treated as individually unique and critical elements of each business. And are too frequently thought of as revenue generators, or work-doers only. This global consciousness of not valuing employees is at the core of what needs to change in order for higher wages and worker rights to be able to be addressed. We need to start valuing our staff and the workers that are out there making the actual products, doing the actual work, being the energy that allows the business to provide the products and services that it provides. Did you know that between 2004 and 2014, Seattle’s minimum wage has increased only by a total of $1.90? That’s about a twenty cents per year increase.

    But the flip side of this is that small businesses aren’t prepared to increase to $15hr in such a short time. Most small businesses don’t have liquid revenue or a method in place to suddenly generate more revenue (without losing customers) in order to suddenly increase wages by up to 50%. And even if small businesses are allowed to “phase in” raising their wage scale to $15hr (over the course of, say, a few years), but big businesses are required to go right to $15hr (which is what Sawant is now proposing), this will hurt small businesses in the sense that we literally won’t be able to find workers. I know this is true because even though we already pay $15hr, we work hard to find good employees (we were at two Job Fairs just this past week). This scares me because I really don’t want to see a situation where Seattle’s diverse and eccentric small businesses get swallowed up by more greedy corporations that can already afford to pay more.

    So we have to be careful.

    In sum, the dance we need to do here is not a partisan dance. Rather, it is a merging toward understanding both sides: employees and small business. And trying to figure out a way to put a higher wage in place in a way that protects both workers and small businesses — IE: our local economy.

    Here is the link to the NPR program that I was on last week: http://kuow.org/post/listeners-weigh-15-minimum-wage-debate

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