$15 Now: Central Co-op an early adopter for Seattle’s new minimum wage

UPDATE: It's a done deal. Here's a picture Central Co-op posted this afternoon -- "Today is a proud day for Central Co-op! This morning, we signed a new contract with UFCW 21 that includes a $15 entry-level wage. As far as we know, this is the HIGHEST starting grocery wage in the nation! [L-R: UFCW employee Michael McGovern, General Manager Dan Arnett, Human Resources Director Tyler Burch]" (Image: Central Co-op via Facebook)

UPDATE: It’s a done deal. Here’s a picture Central Co-op posted this afternoon — “Today is a proud day for Central Co-op! This morning, we signed a new contract with UFCW 21 that includes a $15 entry-level wage. As far as we know, this is the HIGHEST starting grocery wage in the nation!
[L-R: UFCW employee Michael McGovern, General Manager Dan Arnett, Human Resources Director Tyler Burch]” (Image: Central Co-op via Facebook)

Celebrations in 2013 as the co-op signed a new five-year lease (Image: CHS)

Celebrations in 2013 as the co-op signed a new five-year lease (Image: CHS)

The Stranger’s Ansel Herz has a nice scoop on the latest contract offer to Central Co-op’s nearly 100 unionized employees — the E Madison market plans to offer entry-level wages of $15 seven years ahead of the deadline set by Seattle’s new minimum law:

The co-op is getting ahead of the game by seven years, entering into a contract with its unionized employees to offer them entry-level wages of $15—starting now.

“We believe working families need that income now,” said Dan Arnett, general manager of the cooperative. “We can afford it and find ways to make it work for us. We think our people are worth it.”

“We want to inspire change—systematic change,” he added. “Particularly in a city that’s expensive, we can’t fall back on poverty wages.”

Herz says the co-op’s board is expected to approve the contract today.

Spearheaded by Council Member Kshama Sawant and eventually embraced by Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle’s new wage rules will boost the minimum to $15 per hour for every worker in the city by 2021. Murray’s May Day compromise plan created tiers of phase-in schedules intended to help protect Seattle businesses with fewer than 500 employees and nonprofits from unintended consequences of a higher minimum wage.

The 13,000-member Central Co-op, a CHS advertiser, joins other businesses in the city already meeting the minimum requirements but appears poised to be the largest employer yet to make the move. Meanwhile, the new Whole Foods lined up to join Madison less than a mile from the co-op in three years currently pays its workers “a minimum starting salary” of $10 nationwide.


After $15 minimum wage fight, Broadway cheesecake shop The Confectional pares back

Seattle sweet shop The Confectional has closed retail operations at its Broadway store citing a “restructuring.”

A sign in the window at 618 Broadway E spelled it out:

Thanks to Jackson for the picture

Thanks to Jackson for the picture

The move comes after the mini-cheesecake mini-chain caused a stir in the minimum wage debate earlier this year when its ownership said an immediate $15 an hour wage increase would force the Broadway dessert shop to close and the company would need to lay off of half of its staff.

In March, as CHS readers brainstormed ways to help The Confectional stay in business on Broadway, owner Destiny Sund said the company employed 11 people at its three locations with six employees working at the Broadway shop and kitchen. Sund said her Broadway location had been “struggling” and foot traffic had been less than expected when The Confectional brought its mini-cheesecake concept to Capitol Hill in 2011.

In June, Mayor Ed Murray came to Capitol Hill to sign Seattle’s new minimum wage into law. The long march to $15 per hour begins in 2015.

While the closure leaves the business still operating its kitchen in the neighborhood, the loss of the retail component on high-rent Broadway seems a significant blow to The Confectional’s Capitol Hill presence. We’ll see if we can learn more about the company’s long-term plans for the space.

UPDATE: Co-owner Sund declined to comment on the situation citing ongoing lease negotiations.

Challenger Spear brings Socialist Alternative (and ground game) fight to 43rd District establishment

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Jess Spear readily admits her bid to unseat a powerful, 10-term Olympia politician with strong name recognition will not be a day at the beach. House Speaker Frank Chopp is about as entrenched as you can get in his Capitol Hill-centered 43rd District. But Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist and Socialist Alternative candidate, says the political landscape is shifting in her favor. After taking leading roles in the successful $15 Now and Kshama Sawant campaigns, Spear is hoping to ride the momentum into Olympia.

“The political situation has changed,” she told CHS. “When we organize, we win, and we’re carrying that lesson forward.”

As ballots dropped last week for the August 5th primary, Spear will be staking out Capitol Hill street corners to get out her message of a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage and repealing the nearly $9 billion Boeing tax break state lawmakers approved last year. To those that say it can’t be done, Spear is quick to point out that many leveled the same charge against Sawant and $15 Now. Continue reading

Effort to roll back Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law falls 1,692 signatures short

A First Hill McDonald’s worker who walked out for a one-day strike against fast food chains earlier this spring (Image: CHS)

A First Hill McDonald’s worker who walked out for a one-day strike against fast food chains earlier this spring (Image: CHS)

Like Goldy’s been saying

Of course, this result had been a foregone conclusion for more than a week. Of more interest is that KCE subtracted 100 signatures from the final total as legally “withdrawn.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this before. Kudos to Working Washington for setting new precedent in the battle against blatantly dishonest signature drives.

Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage plan will not be challenged on the ballot this November:

Today King County Elections issued a letter of insufficiency to the City of Seattle for both Referendum Measure Nos. 2 and 3. There were not enough valid signatures for a measure to be placed on the ballot. Both measures related to putting Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage law to a vote.

Final numbers:

Referendum No. 2 (Save Our Choice)

Number of signatures required 16,510
Number of signatures submitted and checked 568
Number of valid signatures 455


Referendum No. 3 (Forward Seattle)

Number of signatures required 16,510
Number of signatures submitted and checked 18,929
Number of valid signatures 14,818 

CHS reported here on Capitol Hill food and drink business owners who supported Forward Seattle.

More Capitol Hill food+drink businesses add support to undo $15 minimum wage law

Bar owner Andrew Friedman looks on as a representative from Working Washington is interviewed by a reporter during a protest at 15th Ave's Liberty earlier this month (Image: CHS)

Bar owner Andrew Friedman, holding child, looks on as a representative from Working Washington is interviewed by a television reporter during a protest at 15th Ave’s Liberty earlier this month. CHS again asked Friedman to comment about his stance on the minimum wage but he did not answer our inquiries. (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage is on the books, but some business owners on Capitol Hill are continuing to support efforts to change it. The local business group Forward Seattle recently appeared to have cleared its first hurdle to put the standing minimum wage law up for a vote in November.

Last week King County Elections began the process of certifying the roughly 19,000 signatures submitted by Forward Seattle to hold a referendum on the $15 minimum wage. The group needs around 16,500 certified signatures to force a vote.

Included in the funding behind Forward Seattle are donations by Capitol Hill food and drink owners. In early June, CHS reported on Forward Seattle contributions from Liberty Bar owner Andrew Friedman and Poquitos and Von Trapp’s manager Rich Fox.

Records show that Mike Bitondo, co-owner of Garage Billiards, and Jeremy Hardy, co-owner of Coastal Kitchen, have also made donations to Forward Seattle. Continue reading

Group targets Capitol Hill bar for support of anti-$15 minimum wage plan

Friedman declined to comment -- same with his young daughter (Images: CHS)

Friedman declined to comment — same with his young daughter. But he did put out lemonade and ice tea for his guests. (Images: CHS)

With legislation signed to begin Seattle’s transition to a $15 minimum wage, an advocacy group has targeted area businesses including a handful of Capitol Hill bars and restaurants that have shown support for efforts to roll back the wage plan.

Tuesday, the Working Washington group said it was planning to “reach out to potential customers of businesses driving the misleading effort to repeal Seattle’s minimum wage law with a Consumer Alert.” 15th Ave E’s Liberty Bar was targeted with a noontime appearance by the group. Around noon, a gaggle of green-shirted volunteers and organizers gathered in front of the small bar and coffee shop to hand out flyers, hold a banner and talk with the press.

“He is one of the earliest and most vocal supporters of Forward Seattle,” Working Washington’s Sage Wilson told CHS about the decision to target such a relatively small contributor.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink owners back charter amendment to undo $15 minimum wage

Friedman at work (Image: Liberty)

Friedman at work (Image: Libertybars.com)

Efforts to overturn Seattle’s historic $15 minimum wage law are causing a stir with the help of some prominent Capitol Hill food+drink business owners. On Thursday, the group Forward Seattle filed for a charter amendment that would supplant the standing $15 minimum wage law with a $12.50 minimum, phased in over five years.

According to city records, Forward Seattle has been steadily raising money in an effort to get its $12.50 ballot measure before voters. Currently the group has raised $9,000 with the help of donations from Liberty Bar owner Andrew Friedman ($500) and Poquitos co-owner Rich Fox ($250). PubliCola has more on who has donated what. Poquitos is a CHS advertiser and Liberty has mixed us a few mighty fine old fashioneds here and there.

Continue reading

Mayor Murray signs historic $15 minimum wage bill on Capitol Hill

unnamedMore than a year after fast-food workers walked off their jobs to demand higher wages, Mayor Ed Murray delivered on Tuesday as he enacted an historic $15 an hour minimum wage for the city of Seattle. Speaking at Cal Anderson Park before he signed the bill, Murray said Seattle is leading the way in addressing the increasing gap between rich and poor in the U.S.

“We are doing it the Seattle way. We are doing it through collaboration … That’s how you get change done,” he said.

Murray’s signed the minimum wage bill passed by City Council on Monday that very closely resembled the mayor’s May Day compromise plan. The council added several amendments to the plan — including a delay to being the transition in April 2015 and adding a training wage — before unanimously passing it on to the mayor. Continue reading

Seattle finalizes plan for $15 minimum wage — eventually

Sawant addresses a rally before Monday's vote (Image: CHS)

Sawant addresses a rally before Monday’s vote (Image: CHS)

A First Hill McDonald's worker who walked out for a one-day strike against fast food chains earlier this spring (Image: CHS)

A First Hill McDonald’s worker who walked out for a one-day strike against fast food chains earlier this spring (Image: CHS)

The Seattle City Council voted Monday afternoon to require a minimum wage in the city that will — eventually — be the highest in the nation.

“Today’s first victory for fifteen will inspire people all over the nation,” said Council member Kshama Sawant, largely credited with being the the architect of Seattle’s move to address wage inequality.

“Today, workers in Seattle have made history.”

Mayor Ed Murray will sign the legislation Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony slated for 1:15 PM in Cal Anderson Park.

Approval of Council Bill 118098 and Resolution 31524 sets the wheels in motion to move Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 per hour for every worker in the city by 2021. Murray’s May Day compromise plan created tiers of phase-in schedules intended to help protect Seattle businesses with fewer than 500 employees and nonprofits from unintended consequences of a higher minimum wage. Last week, the City Council’s minimum wage committee added a roster of amendments and additions to the plan including a sub-minimum training wage and specifics about how impacts of the plan will be monitored and analyzed.

During Monday’s full council session, Council member Nick Licata introduced an amendment to nix the training wage element of the plan. Sawant argued in favor of Licata’s amendment and was joined by three members in voting for the change. Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, and President of the Council Tim Burgess voted to retain the training wage component and the amendment was defeated.

A Sawant amendment to roll back the start date for the plan to January 1st was also defeated with no votes from Rasmussen, Bagshaw, Clark, Godden, and Burgess. Sawant also found no support from her fellow delegates for an amendment to eliminate the plan’s phase-in schedule. Her proposal to eliminate tip credit language from the legislation also found no additional support from the other members of the council.

The approval marks the end of a City Council process that began in March with a meeting at First Hill’s Town Hall to begin public testimony on raising the wage.

There are still potential barriers. A franchise group was the among the first to say it plans to sue the city over the new wage plan.

Organizers have not yet said if the approval will end fall ballot plans for a charter amendment to move the city to $15 per hour on a more aggressive schedule.

It seems clear that for Sawant’s Socialist Alternative party, the approved legislation is victory enough.

“$15 in Seattle is just the beginning,” Sawant said. “We have an entire world to win. Solidarity.”

(Image: City of Seattle)

(Image: City of Seattle)

City Council adds its $0.02 to Seattle $15/hour wage plan — UPDATE

Sawant at a minimum wage rally on Capitol Hill in March (Image: CHS)

Sawant at a minimum wage rally on Capitol Hill in March (Image: CHS)

UPDATE: The Seattle’s City Council voted Thursday to move Seattle’s $15 minimum wage plan forward — along with a small army of amendments to the legislation.

“I appreciate the good work of the City Council to make clarifications and technical fixes to our minimum wage legislation while keeping the overall framework of the deal we announced on May 1st intact,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement released following the vote. “I want to thank the Council’s minimum wage committee for its unanimous vote, and I look forward to action from the full Council in the coming days.”

“Together,” Murray said, “we are on the verge of making a huge economic difference for tens of thousands of Seattle workers at the same time that we are on the verge of making history.”

Among the amendments making the cut was the shift in a start of implementation for the plan to April, 2015 and the addition of a “sub-minimum wage” for trainees and young workers. Meanwhile, an amendment mirroring a charter initiative from the $15 Now group to require large businesses with more than 500 employees to implement a $15/hour minimum starting January 1st failed.

During the Council committee session, representative for $15 Now announced they have collected 10,000 signatures to put the more aggressive move to the higher minimum wage on the ballot this fall.

Original Report:
Seattle’s City Council will get started a little earlier than normal Thursday morning as representatives prepare to pound out the legislation that will pave the way to a $15 minimum wage.

Starting at 9 AM, the council’s minimum wage committee is slated to deliberate Mayor Ed Murray’s May Day compromise plan that creates tiers of phase-in schedules leading to a $15 base for all Seattle workers by 2021. Continue reading

Rent control and a statewide $15 minimum wage are top priorities for 43rd district challenger 

DSCN1631For the second election in a row, Rep. Frank Chopp will face a firebrand socialist challenger for his 43rd legislative district seat.

Following the successes of her lead roles in the 15 Now campaign and Kshama Sawant’s City Council run, Jess Spear officially announced her candidacy to unseat the influential speaker of the house Wednesday in an appearance on Capitol Hill.

Spear, a 32-year-old climate scientist, will run as a candidate backed by Socialist Alternative, the same party that helped elect Sawant last year.

“I and Socialist Alternative have proven we can win, we have proven results,” Spear said, speaking alongside Sawant at Seattle Central College. “I’m running to give a voice to renters in Capitol Hill that are facing skyrocketing rent. I’m running to give a voice to bus riders that are facing drastic cuts.” Continue reading

First Hill McDonald’s walkout kicks off Seattle fast food strikes — Early rally at Cal Anderson

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_0242Pro-labor coalition groups and backers of the $15 minimum wage were on hand Wednesday night as four workers at the First Hill McDonald’s walked off the job as a planned day of worldwide protest against low wages and unfair practices got an early start in Seattle.

“We are not respected by McDonalds corporation,” one striking worker who has been employed by the company for eight months and now makes 15 cents more than the minimum wage told CHS. “We as a team don’t get treated as such. This is about our self respect and dignity.”


This employee has worked at the First Hill McDonalds for five years. Originally from Mexico, he said he has been in the country for six years. His wages started at $7.15 he said and he now makes $9.32.

A rally is planned Thursday morning in Cal Anderson Park at the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hour of 6:30 AM before workers and supporters march on another international provider of breakfast fast food. The actions are part of a global day of action planned for May 15th to continue to pressure international fast food chains to raise wages and improve their policies for workers.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray made a May Day announcement of his plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15. The plan is now in the hands of the City Council and Socialist first-year representative and labor advocate Kshama Sawant.

A statement on the Seattle strikes sent on behalf of pro-labor group Working Washington is below. Continue reading

Mayor has May Day morning proposal for raising Seattle minimum wage — ‘Seattle workers are going to get a raise’

Murray at Thursday's conference

Murray at Thursday’s conference

Freshly returned from East Coast travel and on the morning of Seattle’s annual day of worker rights activism, Mayor Ed Murray is said to be ready announce his office’s proposal for raising the minimum wage in Seattle to $15.

UPDATE: Saying Seattle workers are receiving a raise, Murray announced that 21 of his 25 minimum wage advisory committee members have agreed on his proposal:

  • Small businesses have fewer than 500 employees
  • Wages must reach $15 within three years for big companies, four years if they offer health care
  • Small businesses will be subject to long five and seven year phase-ins described below
  • Healthcare and tips will be counted towards employee wages until the end of the phase-in period
  • Future increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index

10258063_644362828971196_1221225178868787687_o“This is a plan, not of trickle down … but of building the middle class from the middle out,” Murray said at his City Hall press conference. The mayor said that minimum wage workers in Seattle would make $6,000 more a year than minimum wage workers in the rest of the state. Continue reading

Mayor’s $15 plan for small businesses: tip and health care credit, 5+ year phase-in

IMG_3048Tips and health insurance would count towards a  $15 an hour minimum wage and extra time would be given to small businesses to implement it under a plan that emerged from closed door negotiations at City Hall, sources close to the process told CHS on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Ed Murray said he and his minimum wage task force were committed to a set of principles on charting a path to $15 as part of a broader fight to addressing the country’s shrinking middle class, but that he still wanted more members to back an unspecified plan.

CHS has now learned details of that proposal, although sources say many parts are still in motion. On Friday morning The Stranger also reported on the proposal, which would require all employers to phase-in a $15 an hour minimum wage with no inflationary adjustment during the phase-in period.

The plan offers a two-pronged approach for both small businesses and large, 500+ employee businesses.

Small businesses that offer health insurance or have tipped employees would get to count those benefits towards a minimum wage and get seven years to phase-in all employees to at least $15 an hour. Small businesses with no health insurance or tipped workers would be given a five-year phase-in period.

Large businesses would face similar options, with a four-year phase-in for employers of tipped or insured workers, and a three-year phase-in for those without tipped or insured workers.

The negotiations also reportedly are setting the groundwork for the next phase as the City Council must pound out legislation to make the final framework a reality. The process to achieve consensus on the committee recommendations is also an effort to galvanize the business, labor and nonprofit groups involved to support the plan once it is taken up by Council later this year. The mayor will veto any legislation that significantly deviates from the final recommended plan, a source involved with the discussions but not yet authorized to speak with the media told CHS.

If the consensus holds and the plans don’t prove untenable in the political arena ahead, the majority-backed proposal’s elements appear to be major wins for the Capitol Hill food and drink-focused small business community.

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Michael Wells and and Lost Lake owner David Meinert are members of the Income Inequality Task Force. Meanwhile, a charter amendment so activists can begin the process of collecting thousands of signatures to put the issue on the ballot this fall.

Negotiations over how to implement a $15 an hour minimum wage continued into stoppage time on Friday as the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee failed to reach consensus in time for a planned Thursday announcement.

Mayor set to announce $15 minimum wage plan — with or without consensus — UPDATE: No deal

Demonstrators surrounded City Hall Wednesday (Image: Working Washington)

Demonstrators surrounded City Hall Wednesday (Image: Working Washington)

UPDATE: There was a self-imposed deadline but no deal Thursday at Seattle’s City Hall. With no proposal of his own to offer, Mayor Ed Murray said at a Thursday press conference he still wanted to give his committee more time to hammer out a path to $15.

“A majority of the committee has agreed to a proposal but I don’t believe we have a good cross section of businesses and non-profits to make it viable,” he said. Continue reading