Seattle’s minimum wage law goes into effect — but first, a Capitol Hill victory lap

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Council member Sawant stops inside a Capitol Hill Starbucks — but not for coffee (Image: CHS)

IMG_7434“Hip, hip, hooray! Seattle’s getting a raise!”

Around 100 people chanted the refrain while marching through Capitol Hill Saturday afternoon to celebrate the city’s new minimum wage law going into effect Wednesday.

City Council member Kshama Sawant joined labor leaders and activists to pass out informational flyers and balloons to workers inside the neighborhood’s chain businesses.

The march was a victory lap of sorts for $15 Now activists and a handful of workers who staged numerous rallies and marches around the neighborhood over the past year. Capitol Hill served as the backdrop to some of the most important events on the march to $15, from an early walkout at the Madison McDonald’s to Mayor Ed Murray enacting the minimum wage law. In between, there were symposiums, forums, studies, and countless speeches.

It will all come to a head Wednesday, when the minimum wage at Seattle employers with more than 500 employees will rise to $11 — an 18% jump. Employees at smaller companies with no tips and no medical benefits will also have a $11/hour floor. Small employers of tipped workers and employers that provide medical benefits may pay a $10 minimum and make up the balance with credit for the tips. Continue reading

Step $11* — Minimum wage rally planned Saturday on Capitol Hill

10448616_999792076715411_2076883839272315428_oIn 2014, Mayor Ed Murray came to Capitol Hill to sign Seattle’s historic minimum wage law. On April 1st, the first stage of the march to a $15/hour minimum for all Seattle workers (well, except these folks, maybe) will begin. City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant, the biggest champion of the new wage, will return to the Hill for a rally to celebrate and defend the new law:

Seattle’s Getting a Raise – Now, Let’s Enforce It!
Saturday, March 28th at 1 PM
In Front of Seattle Central College – Broadway & E. Pine
$15 was won due to the efforts low wage workers, unions, and grassroots organizations. The next step is to make sure our bosses follow the law.

On March 28th we’ll be visiting low-wage workplaces to let workers know their rights. Join us and take action for workers’ rights under the new minimum wage law.

Starting next Wednesday, the minimum wage at Seattle employers with more than 500 employees will rise to $11 — an 18% jump. Employees at smaller companies with no tips and no medical benefits will also have a $11/hour floor. Small employers of tipped workers and employers that provide medical benefits may pay a $10 minimum and make up the balance with credit for the tips and bennies. No foolin’.


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Following red tape, minimum wage battles, Good Citizen opens on E Olive Way

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(Image: Good Citizen via Twitter)

After two years of battling red tape — and the city’s move to a $15 minimum wage — Andrew Friedman quietly opened his Good Citizen bar Friday night.

“It’s designed to look like someone’s house… really comfortable and nice,” Friedman told CHS about the transformation of the former E Olive Way coffee shop a year ago as he made plans for a March 2014 debut for the bar. Friedman took over the space in 2013. Word back then was the bar was lined up for a summer 2013 debut. Continue reading

$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