To celebrate the new wage law going into effect earlier this year, 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. (Image: CHS)
Minimum wage earners in Seattle are getting another raise to kick off the new year. Starting in January, minimum wage workers at companies with more than 500 employees, which includes most fast food workers, will get a an 18% bump in pay from $11 to $13 an hour. Small business employees will have a $12 guaranteed minimum, an increase of $1, and those that are tipped will get a $.50 base-pay raise bringing their minimum hourly wage to $10.50.
2016’s scheduled increase is a big ramp up for Seattle’s phased-in $15 an hour ordinance, which was passed in 2014. The law went into effect this April, bringing all minimum wages to $11 an hour except for tipped workers, who went to $10 an hour.
Business owners on Capitol Hill have taken various strategies towards meeting the new requirements. Some businesses, like Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, had already brought workers to $15 an hour even though they likely wouldn’t be required to do so until 2021. While there’s been little evidence that the new minimum wage has effected business openings or closings, some Capitol Hill business owners told CHS they would have to continue to make changes to roll with the scheduled increases.
At 15th Ave’s Coastal Kitchen, menu prices will rise around 4% due to next year’s increase, according to owner Jeremy Hardy. He said the restaurant has made other changes to soften the blow to customers, changes that would continue as the ramp-up to $15 moves ahead.
“We have re-engineered our scheduling in the back of house (kitchen-typically the most difficult area to adjust as this is the power plant) as well as the front of house,” he said. “The real increases start in the following years when the increases will require a more potent elixir of adjustments to be determined.”
Retrofit Home owner Jon Milazzo said the starting wage for her employees has been $12 an hour for years, so the new minimum wouldn’t have any immediate effects. However, Retrofit will make hiring changes as scheduled increases continue past 2016.
“We wont offer part time jobs for students or entry level into our industry, you will only be able to work here coming in with a complete skill set. So that sucks all around,” she said. Continue reading