Seattle's Minimum Wage Increase
Posted: June 6, 2014
The City of Seattle,WA, this week made a major statement in its effort to gradually increase the minimum wage by approving a resolution that would hike the city's minimum wage to $15. And the vote was unanimous. Not only will Seattle have the highest minimum wage in the country, it will shatter the highest minimum wage in the nation by nearly $4 an hour.
The measure, which would take effect April 1, 2015, includes a phase-in of the wage increase over several years, with a slower process for small businesses. The plan gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to comply with the new law. Smaller organizations will have seven years to complete the transition.
It was no surprise that the International Franchise Association vehemently opposes the deal and is intending to file a lawsuit to stop the "unfair implementation" of the new law. Franchises, regardless of their employee count, have only three years, even if a franchise owns only one store employing a few workers.
A recent national survey of employers about the proposed federal minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour found that 38 percent of small business owners who currently pay employees minimum wage said that they would have to let some employees go to cover the cost. Among the same group, 54 percent said they would reduce hiring and 65 percent said they would raise prices on their goods and services.
I have never been to Seattle, but I have spoken with friends who have visited the city. All concur that it is a beautiful city, but it's expensive to live there. Maybe those in Seattle can live with a higher minimum wage, but I would not want to be a small business owner in an area where government tells me what I have to pay my entry-level workers.
Socialist Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant said he was proud to lead the effort to increase the city's minimum wage. "Seattle may be a hippie city. We may wear socks with our sandals, but it's also a city where different progressive groups can work together to bring about change". Two things stood out to me: Socialist city council member and hippie city.
Likewise, I don't think it was the Eau Claire County Board's right to pass an advisory referendum telling the Wisconsin Legislature to raise the state's minimum wage. I don't live in Eau Claire County, but if I did, I would be offended that time was spent in the county board room discussing and voting on an issue like the minimum wage.