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

Friedman at work (Image: Liberty)

Friedman at work (Image:

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.

Although the group filed to get the measure on the ballot this November, it would have to wait until next year as citizen-sponsored charter amendments can only go to a vote on odd years. Turns out, that’s the same ballot schedule 15 Now’s proposed charter amendment would need to cleave to should it be carried forward.

It appears the campaign only learned this week their ballot measure wouldn’t be eligible for this year’s election. “It was a surprise to us,” said Jeff Upthegrove, treasurer of 15 Now.

The push to undo Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage plan is intended to protect small businesses and the “most vulnerable organizations,” according to a statement on “Adopting a less extreme increase over a five-year period will provide a material increase in income for minimum-wage workers now, while allowing the small-business community and most vulnerable organizations time to adjust. This will be beneficial to all over the long-run.”

David Rolf, SEIU 775 President and co-chair of the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee, released a statement Thursday calling for Forward Seattle to release the names of their donors (they are publicly available here):

Despite widespread agreement among the Seattle business and labor community not to pursue competing ballot initiatives and overwhelming public support for the ordinance just passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor, a fringe group of right-wing ideologues in the business community today showed that they will stop at nothing to prevent workers from earning a living wage. This is selfish, short-sighted, and stupid. Those of us on the IIAC who worked tirelessly for months to produce a plan that works for labor and business are deeply disappointed to see others pursuing plans that would weaken the gains for our community. We certainly don’t expect them to succeed.

The backlash to the backlash has also been quite palpable, with lots of debating over social media.

CHS first reported on Forward Seattle in April and their counter-plan to the Kshama Sawant-led $15 proposal.

And what’s an initiative scramble without Tim Eyman getting involved? Days after the city council unanimously passed its $15 an hour bill, Eyman filed his Fair and Uniform Minimum Wage act. The initiative seeks to prevent Seattle and other cities in the state from raising the minimum wage and would give that power solely to the state legislature. In order for the initiative to go to the legislature, Eyman would need to collect some 250,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, organizers with 15 Now continue to gather signatures for its threatened charter amendment that would implement an ever more robust $15 minimum wage in Seattle, with shorter phase-ins and no tip credits. And they’re planning a party.

15 Now’s “Victory Party” starts at 6:30 PM Friday night at Washington Hall. Go get phased-in.


UPDATE: CHS erroneously attributed ownership of the wrong E Olive Way bar to Friedman. He is owner of not yet open Good Citizen. We apologize for the error.

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18 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink owners back charter amendment to undo $15 minimum wage

      • I think It will become evident our City Council and Mayor are completely disconnected from what the City wants. They are only pandering to a loud vocal minority opinion. I think $15 is dead….just like restricting UberX and other rideshare is dead. Most supporters of $15 have no clue what it takes to own and operate a small business. Not one City Council member or the Mayor have ever owned or run a business.

      • $15 is so dead that both mayoral candidates took on the issue and it only passed 9-0 in the council. Yup, totally dead..

      • Councilman O’brien’s wife owns a small business. I don’t know the others, but I bet several are well connected to small businesses. I don’t think “Seattle wants,” one thing. However, many citizens are concerned that growing inequality needs to be addressed and have proposed a wage increase to that end. Others are concerned the wage increase will harm economic growth. I would guess that as with most things, probably the result will be a mixed bag. I also think that you are perhaps in a bit of denial about the political power of the higher-wage side of this.

    • Revolver is not owned by Andrew Freidman .. its owned by Gary Reynolds .. so go to Revolver and listen to some great music

  1. I’m getting my boycott list ready. It looks like QFC will be getting a lot more of my business for the foreseeable future.

  2. Not sure why we would expect people to stop fighting for what they think is best after the law changes. Laws are repealed or modified all the time. I support the $15 wage but I also know it’s going to be hard on small businesses. Those affected are taking part in the democratic process and recommending a smaller but still very real increase. Don’t like it? Let’s all talk about it. That’s how things get done.

  3. You were never going to those places to begin with so you won’t be missed. And Andrew doesn’t own Revolver.

  4. I wouldn’t sweat much over whatever the new minimum wage. It will be a moot point when most low level work will be replaced by automation. It’s inevitable, but because of 15now, the progress will accelerate. We will order and pay with our smartphones(*cough* ibeacon), one body to serve and clean. Hey better yet a drone can serve food (kudos amazon). Less overhead lower bills higher profits correct orders, no tips nor spilled drinks. Awesome! Chill out peeps and have a drink.

  5. I know Cameron. He’s a good guy, he just thinks anyone who disagrees with him is a right-winger. It’s just a flaw of his.

  6. For the labor leader, David Rolf, to say that the Forward Seattle folks are “right-wing ideologues…..selfish….stupid” is over-the-top. Their proposal is a reasonable one and should be calmly debated, without the histrionics.

  7. I honestly have no opinion on the 15 minimum wage. But why don’t we see what actually happens before talking about repealing it? There’s way too much pearl clutching and panty twisting for my taste.

    Besides, anything that scumbag Eyeman gets involved in is a scam.

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