For months Seattle’s minimum wage debate has centered around $15 an hour or bust. Now a newly formed group, whose membership appears to be anonymous, says it’s time for Seattle’s small, independent businesses to push back. On Wednesday Forward Seattle released a direct counter to the $15 Now plan, in what seems to be the first detailed alternative to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The counter plan proposes an $11 an hour minimum wage for small businesses in 2015 with adjustments made annually through 2017. Tips, bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing would all get counted towards a minimum wage under the plan, and the state minimum wage would be retained for all tipped and commission workers.
Forward Seattle also wants phase-ins for non-profits, but said big businesses could handle a jump to $12.50 an hour by next year. The group would use federal guidelines to delineate big and small businesses.
The group describes itself as a “non-partisan, self-funded, grassroots organization representing local, independent businesses.” CHS could not reach anyone from Forward Seattle in time for publication, but here’s what the group’s website has to say.
Forward Seattle advocates an increase in the minimum wage that is gradual, sustainable, responsible and measurable … Forward Seattle believes that an increase in the minimum wage is a matter of justice, solvency, sustainability and survival, not just for the Seattle local independent business community, but for the citizens involved in them and the public at large.
A few more points on the group’s plan:
- No exceptions made for collective bargaining agreements or unions
- Training wages, including a rate for workers under 18 years of age
- A policy adopted must be measured, evaluated and reported upon for actual impact on low-wage earners prior to adopting new policy beyond 2017.
The Seattle Forward site also has this “open books” post about an anonymous West Seattle coffee shop. Many small business owners who want to pull the reigns on $15 Now have said it’s been difficult to discuss the issue publicly without being vilified.
The plan will surely be a topic of conversation at the next Capitol Hill Community Council meeting, where the entire April 17th meeting will be devoted to the minimum wage debate.
In a Wednesday piece for The Stranger, Andrew Friedman, owner of Liberty and soon-to-open Good Citizen, warned an immediate $15 an hour minimum wage would shutter small businesses. Seattle Forward’s counter plan comes a week after Mayor Ed Murray held his daylong Income Inequality Symposium on the Seattle University campus.