Sawant talks a friendly path for small businesses as March for $15 finishes on Capitol Hill

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“Tip credit?” “Forget it!” “Low Pay!” “No Way!”

IMG_9382Hundreds of marchers traveled from Judkins Park to Pine and Broadway on Saturday afternoon to rally for raising the minimum wage in Seattle. What they heard from City Council member Kshama Sawant when they arrived on Capitol Hill was new.

In a speech that hit many of her familiar themes about squaring off against big corporations, Sawant also laid out a new, softer push to $15 for Seattle’s thousands of small, independent businesses. “We are proposing $11 an hour,” she said, adding that small businesses would be phased-in to $15 over a three-year period.IMG_8919

“[The] Mayor said he is concerned about very small businesses,” Sawant said. “Let’s take that off the table here today. Let’s support both small businesses and human services by phasing them in over three years starting with $11 an hour on January 1st, with an inflation increase, with regular steps to earn 15 each year.” Sawant. “This is our proposal.”

“We get to see if the concerns about small business and non-profits are genuine,” Sawant said.

IMG_9123 IMG_8968At the March 5th public hearing on income inequality, CHS reported on the handful of small business owners who spoke about the $15 minimum wage amidst a sea of 15 Now supporters. Meanwhile, we reported details this week of a survey of 251 Seattle small business owners that showed the strongest support for a three-year phase-in and using a “total compensation” calculation that could include everything from tips to health care.

Mayor Ed Murray, meanwhile, released a statement on the day of the march to say his committee convened to produce recommendations for raising the minimum wage in the city is making progress toward its April deadline:

Our broad stakeholder process is on track and making good progress. There was always the potential for individuals to chart their own course as is their right, but I remain committed to a solution that is inclusive, thoughtful, lasting, and that minimizes unintended consequences to the greatest degree possible. I believe we are on target to deliver a proposal that raises the minimum wage while accomplishing these objectives.

At the rally on Saturday, Sawant acknowledged the growing pressure on 15 Now organizers to produce a friendlier plan for small-businesses and non-profits.

“In recent weeks, business has begun to push back. They say 15 will cost jobs. Teenagers won’t be able to find work. That small businesses will have to close their doors. Such arguments are to be expected,” Sawant said.

Despite the friendlier path for small business, larger companies are still being targeted for the $15 hourly wage from the outset — no compromises.

“Big business, all industries, with no exceptions will pay $15 an hour on January 1st, 2015 to all workers,” Sawant said. “No tip penalty, no wage theft, no so called total compensation, no training wages, no teenage wages. The $15 minimum wage will be tied to the cost of living and is the Washington State minimum wage and will be automatically increased to keep up with inflation.”

The City of Seattle is holding an income inequality symposium on March 27th on the Seattle U campus to help finalize the recommendation process. The committee has an end-of-April deadline for providing recommendations to Murray on raising the wage. Meanwhile, backers continue to prepare legislation that Sawant has promised to present to Council in “early 2014.” 15 Now and other groups are also preparing for possible ballot initiatives to turn the decision over to voters should City Hall’s progress stall.

32 thoughts on “Sawant talks a friendly path for small businesses as March for $15 finishes on Capitol Hill

  1. It’s good to see Sawant realizes that $15 Now won’t work and is starting to compromise, even though she has said before she wouldn’t. The next step is talking about total compensation. The Mayor’s IIA committee will be coming out with something on that soon.

    • We really don’t give a shit what the committee that you and others bought your way onto thinks.

      Are there any minimum wage workers on the panel? No. Anyone making less than $15/hour? No.

      • Interesting point of view. Because before the Mayor’s committee even makes a recommendation, $15Now is backing off on their $15 immediately policy. Even after saying that would never happen. Sounds like someone gives a shit, and they should.

      • Hey Helene,

        Do you own a business and know the ins and outs of how it is ran on a daily basis? The taxes involved? The permits/licenses/benefits being paid?

        …maybe you should care. Isn’t that the whole point of this is to listen to one another? Sounds to me like what you’re saying is ” I want what I want. You listen to ME. I don’t have to listen to YOU. My WAY. NOT your way.” Kinda stupid of you think that, eh?

        Listen, I don’t own a business so I don’t criticize business owners. I have friends who run businesses so it’s not a simple as you 15’ers think. Maybe if you actually thought about it, you’d think outside of your selfish little bubble.

        I’m with the businesses on this one….I say, bring it to the ballot! I will vote AGAINST it!

        • Yes, it’s the people who are making less than a living wage who are selfish, not the people who own two nice houses.

          Who’s getting their way, JustMe? From what it sounds like, it’s Meinert who is making no concessions at all while bullying everyone poorer than him into accepting his way.

          • Many small businesses will be forced to close and prices are going to rise across the board. This increase could have a major impact. It seems like a lot of 15 now supporters don’t even acknowledge that there will be an effect. A 60% wage increase is paid for by everyone.

    • Keep fighting the good fight Dave, the Silent majority in Seattle supports you. Don’t let these bullies beat you down.

      BTW I saw the march. Barely 300 people, it didn’t even fill up the SCCC plaza. 20,000 went to the St Paddy’s day parade.

  2. ““Big business, all industries, with no exceptions will pay $15 an hour on January 1st, 2015 to all workers,” Sawant said. “No tip penalty, no wage theft, no so called total compensation, no training wages, no teenage wages. The $15 minimum wage will be tied to the cost of living and is the Washington State minimum wage and will be automatically increased to keep up with inflation.” ”

    Try reading the article next time dummy.

    • Jay – a month ago she said no phasing. Now she supports phasing. She says now no total compensation. She’ll get there. And to come to a compromise, it actually doesn’t matter if one council members supports every point in the compromise. It only matters if the majority and the Mayor do. I’m just glad we’re moving in the right direction – $15 minimum wage in Seattle. It will be historic.

  3. Hmm…so assuming all this crazy bull$h*t passes, why would anyone wanna work for a small business at 11.00 when you can flip burgers at McD’s for $15.00? Wouldn’t this still be bad for small businesses?

    But I suppose if all the 15’ers are working for a corporation (which seems these 15’er Crazies are so against), a job is a job…..

  4. Aren’t fast-food franchises like McDonald’s small businesses too? Raising wages doesn’t affect McDonald’s Corp. There are business that run many McDonald’s, but you can’t say that just by virtue of being a McDonald’s you are not a small business.

    Also consider a franchisee “A” that runs 3 vs. “B” that runs 15. B may make the threshold of $15 immediately and would be at a disadvantage to A’s store for the exact same product. Also A’s workers could leave and work for B’s stores, screwing A.

    It’s just very complicated regardless of being for or against.

    • The fact is that franchises of large national businesses have extraordinary resources available. Owning the entire supply chain (farms, processors, etc), having millions already invested in research to maximize profits, a powerful brand, free advertising, etc.

      These aren’t luxuries local small businesses have at their fingertips.

      • Eric what are you talking about? Can you name a single franchise chain operation that owns it entire supply chain? What franchisee gets free advertising. Do you just make this shit up as you type?

  5. This is why the goal must be on overthrowing capitalism by (1) forming a political party capable of pursuing that goal; and (2) forming an ideological and policy manifesto suitable for the purpose of achieving that goal.
    The propensity of activists to rally around personalities rather than getting to the work of organizing a party and crystalizing ideas and stratagems continues to have the same results: disappointment and failure.

    • Good luck with that. Seriously, good luck. When will the mass killings, forced relocations and reeducation camps start?

      • Don’t worry, the Seattle times published an article stating overthrowing capitalism with mass killings, forced relocations and reeducation camps is a myth.

  6. It would seem savant has seen the writing on the wall and is looking to cover her ass, as this 15$ an hr has no shot at all and I’m sure the council has let her know that!

  7. It’s frustrating to hear people say that Sawant and the 15Now campaign have “seen the writing on the wall” and are “backing off”.

    This is supposed to be an open dialogue. Small business owners on Capitol Hill have expressed their concerns, many of whom agree with raising the minimum wage but feel that a 60% sudden increase will be difficult to withstand. What Sawant is now proposing addresses those concerns and offers a workable compromise.

    Instead of criticizing our councilwoman for making a compromise we should be commending her. Now, if only the policy makers in Washington DC could do this.

        • Not to mention the “survey of 251 Seattle small business owners” cited in the article. John, it sounds like there is plenty of opportunity for all sides to be heard on the issue.

          My point is that because Sawant has a proposed a phase in idea, it appears she’s actually listening. Good for her.

    • I agree it’s a good sign she’s willing to compromise. Whether it’s because she realized the across-the-board-$15 has no chance, or whatever reason, it’s a good thing. Now when the “we don’t give a shit what your committee thinks” simpletons start to buy a clue, maybe we’ll make some progress. Any suggestions espoused by groups that don’t include the thousands of mom-and-pop businesses in Seattle aren’t worth the paper they’re write on. And those of you wondering why somebody would work for $11/hr when they could get $15 at McDonald’s..? Because jobs at McDonald’s would suddenly get LOTS harder to get– Duh. And the quality of the avg worker at McD would go up. And the little places would be the only places people with no experience could get. Not exactly rocket science.

      • There is 70+ years of studies since the introduction of the Federal mandated minimum wage. The policy was and continues to be a failure toward the stated goal of helping low income people get out of poverty.
        This failure is even documented in several current college economic text books.
        In response to minimum wage increases over the years companies like McDonald’s have responded with process equipment and automation to use less employees and reduce cost.

  8. Eddie, I agree with you on Compromise being a good thing, But the mayors task force is completely secret! I am a small business owner and have been for 20 years and i could afford a small increase in minimum wage but the 15$ with no exceptions is a non starter and i wasn’t included in that business survey. I employ 40 people and half of them are high school kids making minimum wage. I also have some making up to 20$ an hour with 3 weeks paid vacation, health care ,profit sharing, paid sick days and paid maternity leave. If this 15$ an hr minimum wage was ever put in place I would be forced to lower benefits lay people off and raise prices. Its that simple, and i have plenty of colleagues who are in the same boat.

  9. Sawant is only compromising because she sees the writing on the wall, but at least she is willing to take into consideration what small business owners are saying. Now I hope she and her acolytes will compromise on the total compensation issue…..there is no way a restaurant server, for example, who makes minimum wage but several times that in tips should have his/her base wage increased.

    As for those, like Helene above, who claims to not care what the Mayor’s committee thinks, they had better start caring…because it is likely that this committee will determine the details of what happens with this legislation.

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  12. Sawat is clearly insane. To be a socialist, one must be either completely ignorant or have a screw loose.

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