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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.

In a lengthy email to CHS, Fox said he and his business partners have always supported raising the minimum wage beyond $9.32 an hour, but disagreed with the $15 plan enacted by Mayor Ed Murray. Fox said he donated to Forward Seattle not because he fully supported their proposal, but because he thought voters should have a choice between multiple options.

I personally feel that it is not unreasonable for Seattle citizens to have a vote on the Mayor’s plan, considering it raises the minimum wage over 90% over the next ten years and will affect every resident in some way or another. However, I am not (and our businesses are definitely not) strongly advocating for a repeal of the Mayor’s plan in an effort to maintain the status quo and I’m disappointed that my donation from May is causing anyone to believe that about our restaurants or owners. As long-time bartenders and servers in and around Capitol Hill, we are hardly “right-wing ideologues” attempting to promote poverty wages as some have said. If there is any idea that we strongly advocate, it’s that our businesses are only truly healthy and successful if all of our staff members feel well-supported and well-compensated.

(Poquitos is a CHS advertiser)

Last week the group Working Washington staged a demonstration outside 15 Ave E’s Liberty Bar over Friedman’s donation to Forward Seattle. Friedman, who’s Good Citizen bar has yet to open at E Olive Way, has not responded to multiple requests for comment on this story.

Kathrina Tugadi, a Forward Seattle founding member and owner of Mr. Villa and El Norte restaurants, said a referendum on the current law was not her ideal solution to fighting for an alternative minimum wage plan, but is now the group’s last recourse.

“What we know is there are voices that have not been heard. This is why we want to bring the exisiting law to a vote,” she said. “We’ve always wanted to increase the minimum wage and $12.50 is what all studies supported.”

Back in April, as momentum was snowballing for $15, Forward Seattle originally coalesced around a proposal for a $12.50 minimum wage. After Murray signed the $15 plan into law, Forward Seattle attempted to get their $12.50 proposal on the ballot in November. When it discovered the measure wouldn’t be eligible to go before voters until next year, Tugadi said the group began planning for a referendum.

During Forward Seattle’s recent signature gathering campaign to hold the referendum, the pro-$15 group Working Washington claimed Forward Seattle petitioners had mislead voters in order to gather signatures. Working Washington is now seeking to get those names expunged by gathering signatures of people who think they were misled and submitting those names to King County Elections. Working Washington also posted this video that they said shows a Forward Seattle petitioner using misleading tactics outside the Northgate Target.

Tugadi dismissed the fraud claims, saying if anything some people were confused about the meaning of a referendum.

“There’s no evidence, no proof. Their objective was not to prove anything, their objective was to delay us so we couldn’t meet our deadline,” Tugadi said.

As for the mayor and council that passed the $15 an hour law, Tugadi said she’s still baffled by their actions.

“I wish I had the time and political savvy to know why they did what they did,” she said. “I don’t think any of them have been very forthright about their motivations.”

Meanwhile, the business group OneSeattle Coalition appears to have mostly dissipated after initially forming with some Capitol Hill support to oppose the $15 proposal.

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

  1. More places I will not be going to. EVER. Keep calling out the bastards. While you are at it, what are names of businesses/reataurants that support the $15/hr minimum wage?

    • Alan, I’m gonna make it a point to eat at these places and support them for supporting this city. And do give me a list of businesses that support those $15Now lemmings so I can avoid them.

      • Whatever William, I’m with Allen. Screw these cheapos who lack the ability to re-tool to a changing market. Funny, I don’t see them fighting the property owners and developers that gouge them on rent.

        Also funny: Plum Bistro (on 12th) is raising all staff to (at least) $15/hour NOW. Eat there.

      • thanks for the info on Plum. I hope that’s a great business decision for them, and their staff (truly! I love plum).

  2. Some questions no one is answering:
    If the value of $15 remains the same, who would higher a non-fluent speaker of English (i.e., a recent immigrant) at $15 an hour? Who would hire someone with a criminal record at $15 an hour? Who would hire a high school drop out at $15 an hour? This won’t turn Seattle into a ghost town, but it will make it a whole lot harder for certain groups of people to find a job.

    And most of all, how is saying the minimum wage should be slowly raised to $11 an hour instead of $15 make you “a member of the right-wing fringe”?

    • Here’s a question for you, William: Why shouldn’t immigrants be paid as much as anyone else for the same jobs? Why shouldn’t those with criminal records be paid as much as anyone else for the same jobs? Why shouldn’t those without diplomas be paid as much as anyone else for the same jobs?

      The average rent in Seattle is $1540. Seven years from now, when the minimum wage is finally $15 an hour, you’d have to work over 100 hours in a month to cover just that. Does that cost disappear because you don’t speak English fluently? Because you have a criminal record? Because you didn’t graduate? Of course not.

      This argument floated by business owners who want to continue to pay their employees shit is so transparent. It tries to play on liberal guilt, but ultimately fails because we all know what it takes to live in this city. It’s folks who think that these groups should be paid less who are doing the disservice to these groups, not the folks who think they should be paid a wage that allows them to at least barely subsist in Seattle.

      • Last time I checked “what it takes to live in this city” is happening just fine at the current minimum wage. If that wasn’t the case there’d be an abundance ‘for rent’ signs all over Capitol Hill.

      • Common cents, you are so far mistaken about the state of this city and the FACTS. Sure, newcomer techies are moving in and onto the hill in droves. However, artists, the less well-off and many visible minorities who’ve been here for generations are being pushed out of this city by soaring rents that $9.32/hour can’t begin to pay for. Clearly, you’ve taken big advantage (and tokes) of the new legal marijuana in Seattle. ;-)

      • First I actually don’t smoke. Secondly if you think $15/hr is gonna save current residents from being pushed off the hill you are so mistaken. And by the way let’s not forget when the slow season starts for a lot of local business Oct-March and you begin seeing a lot of reduced hours. Then what?

      • Hannah, nobody said people who are less-than-fluent or have criminal records deserve to make less. The point was, when confronted w/ a choice between 2 people, one who is English-fluent, educated and has no criminal record; and the other who may be less-than-fluent and/or has a criminal record, who do you think the employer will choose? It’s obvious. That doesn’t mean the others deserve to make less. It just means than when jobs are mandated to pay $15/hr an entire group of people who might sit on the sidelines or pursue something different will snatch up jobs that otherwise might have employed someone who looked like a safer bet on paper. That will make a lot of people less employable and worsen their job prospects. How does that help?

      • First, the state with the fastest growing work force is North Dakota, with a low minimum wage, followed by Texas which has the same:
        Do you know how much Wal-Mart in North Dakota pays as starting salary? $17.50 an hour:
        That’s what we need to do, grow an economy and ALL WAGES will get bigger.
        And as for it killing jobs, as I said, it may not kill jobs but it will make entry level jobs harder to find for large groups of people, like recent immigrants and people with criminal records. How are they suppose to compete with college grads who suddenly see washing dishes as being a good gig now that it pays $15/hour?

      • Not true. Texas and North Dakota both have minimum wages that match the federal minimum wage. The states you are thinking of, with lower than federal minimum wages, are the economic basket cases: Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas.

        If you think we’d let Seattle turn into one of those backwards plantation-wage states you are sorely mistaken.

      • The point Hannah is this: who the hell is going to hire a non-English speaker, someone with a criminal record, or a high school drop out at $15/hour if a college Native speaker of English with no record is applying for the same job?
        Yes, I would love to live in a world where recent immigrants could all make $50 an hour, but that is not the reality.
        And I don’t care how you do the math, $11/hour is more than $0/hour. Is it easier to live on $11/hour or $0/hour in Seattle? Because if the minimum wage goes up to the point that college educated people are willing to work minimum wage jobs, that’s exactly what recent immigrants are going to make when they have to compete for jobs with people with degrees, $0/hour.
        This is not left vs right because I’m pretty moderate myself. This is common sense vs wishful thinking.

      • $1500 a month refers to a full rent, not what a share of the rent is. Why is living with roommates suddenly “living in subhuman conditions of capitalist oppression”? Everyone lived with roommates at one point or another. If you want your own place, maybe you should find a job better than McDonald’s?
        And King County concluded that a living wage in the city of Seattle for a single adult is actually $10.62 an hour. Source:
        And the MIT living wage calculator puts a living wage in Seattle at $9.62/hour:
        This factors in living with roommates and maybe taking the bus as opposed to having a car. And cry me a river if you have to take a bus and live with roommates because I’m doing that now and I’m doing just fine.
        So, where the hell did the $15/hour number come from? A campaign Slogan screamed by hipsters, that’s where it came from. What happened to the intelligent, analytical Seattle?

      • Sigh. William. WAY back when boomers were leaving school, one didn’t need to share an apartment or house. If one did so, it was because one didn’t want to work full time. Your armchair analysis of where we are at now is so far from any reality. The FACTS dictate clearly that housing costs have soared here, many other costs have increased (tuition, student loan loads, fuell/transport) at rates much faster than salaries have. Therefore, a logical person will/would realize something drastic must be done to attempt to ensure some equality and fairness. Funny, but all of you $15 min wage haters (btw, I’n SO not a hipster) also seem perfectly content with a handful of rich, powerful developers dictating the value of Real Estate. Study Montréal’s real estate market and you might learn that people fighting for their right to live decently (and live in or outside of the cities that people like them created) fare much better than suckers who accept the tired, failed policies and mantras of economists, the oligarch and big business. Clearly, some people don’t like to accept inconvenient truths ;-)

    • William – I think you bring up a good question about the impact on people who are generally hired because they are cheap labor. I disagree that keeping the minimum wage lower is the answer, but it also doesn’t solve that issue by declaring anyone who isn’t 100% supportive of this particular measure a greedy overlord.

      Unfortunately, any step forward for some will also push the very bottom further down – but that is a larger issue.

      Also, are there stats about how the mandatory sick leave has impacted small businesses? There was a lot of pushback, particularly by food service owners, about how that would drive up their costs, yet new spendy restaurants continue to open. How have businesses that have been through that change coped?

      • Fortunately there are stats on that subject, the most recent of which we’re presented to the city by a US researcher called Jennie Romich.

        Basically there was no effect and the nightmare scenario that Tom Douglas promised didn’t happen, in fact he admitted it had ultimately had little to no impact. Go figure.

        Much like this.

        I’m torn. I like Liberty and the staff, I disagree strongly with the owner.

  3. The article correctly pointed out that there are voices that have not been heard. This $15 an hour thing has been supported by a very vocal group – many who have too much time on their hands. In the meantime, the rest of us working stiffs were too busy trying to make a living, rather than participate in something that should have been easily shot down at its inception. Let the majority be heard, and this ridiculous concept will finally die.

    Nearly everyone has had to endure difficult financial times, but we got through it without any hand outs. That’s life. It may not seem fair, but nobody has ever said life was always going to be fair. So get over it.

    • Hand out?! OK, Mr. Plantation owning-labor exploiter wannabe. People should earn a fair wage for their work, Mr. McCapitalist-at-any-price.

      • People, slaves were not paid a damn cent, so please spare us the offensive “slavery” analogies.

        While it would be wonderful if all businesses could comfortably afford to pay their staff $15 an hour, the reality is that the rent for these spaces is so ridiculously high (my relative pays $7,000 a month for an average sized retail space that isn’t even in a prime location), that forcing them to increase their staff’s wages this drastically IS going to have an impact on small businesses that are already struggling.

        Retail in this city is practically dead as it is. The only places that can afford to thrive are bars and bougie restaurants owned by the wealthy. Have you been to Portland lately? There are tons of boutiques and gift shops and independent businesses in practically every neighborhood, many of which are owned by your average middle class 20-something. That’s not the case here. We need to fix the rent issues and create an environment where businesses can survive before forcing the wage hike.

        And while it would be great to think that forcing business owners to pay their staff $15 an hour will result in things staying exactly as they are but their staff earning more, how exactly do you really think these larger businesses are going to absorb the costs? My guess is you’ll be seeing more self checkouts, reduced customer service staff, reduced staff hours, one security guard on every floor making sure people don’t steal things, sales staff who used to make commission now having their commissions reduced, etc…

        Not to mention a whole bunch of people who will no longer be tipping, because if $15 is the recognizably liveable wage, why should we be helping pay people who the state recognizes as now being able to financially support themselves? I provide customer service in my job (as most people do) and we don’t get tipped. What is the point of providing a gratuity anymore?

      • So don’t tip?

        It’s be a hidden service charge and a way for bar owners to hide actual costs off th books for too many years now.

      • That poll was paid for by the same lobbying groups pushing for a higher minimum wage, so it is bias. No third party poll on the minimum wage question has been conducted to the best of my knowledge.
        But what we do know is that the candidate that run on a 15/hour platform, the much hated Kshama Sawant, only won by less than 2% of the vote, and the measure in Seatac only passed by 77 votes out of 6,000 cast, and that’s in a much more working class town than Seattle and after the lobbying groups in favor of a 15/hour minimum wage outspent the opposition:

        Let the people vote, and then I’ll believe it if it passes.

  4. I think $12.50/hour, for someone who is working a low-level job with little or no experience, is a much more reasonable figure. That is still a very significant raise over the current minimum.

  5. Forward Seattle’s ballot initiative is to keep the minimum wage at $9.32, it says NOTHING anywhere in it about $12.50.

    • They wanted to file a petition to raise it to $12.50, but the city government shut them down as the article clearly says. After the absurd $15/hour minimum wage is struck down we can pass something reasonable and based on the ideas of adults and not the dorm room slogans of a bunch of young hipsters in matching red shirts.

      • Oh, well the City has these things called laws, and if you can’t stick to them then maybe you should expect the city government to shut you down. So maybe you and your fellow small-business brown shirts should get a clue.

  6. Wow, who is the Tugadi person? Sounds like somebody needs to learn about representative democracy. You know, we vote them in and they pass laws — it’s the way the system works on the most basic level. She doesn’t understand that and she wants to cast aspersions on our elected representatives?

  7. Why is it controversial that this get put to a vote? Probably because Seattle voters will reject it (rightfully, we live in Seattle not San Francisco). $11/hr in today’s dollars is reasonable… And generous.

    • Why is it controversial that in order to bring something to a vote you have to follow the law? That is the only *real* controversy here. So you want to overturn a law, why should I care? Do it within the bounds of the law or don’t do it at all.

      • Give me a break. Before there are significant changes to the minimum wage here in Seattle, a vote or votes will have taken place. & it’s my personal opinion that there’s no chance in hell that Seattle voters will endorse $15/hr in the near future. Seattleites are receptive to the legitimacy of the minimum wage issue and will boost minimum wage to something in the neighborhood of 11 dollars. That likely outcome is positive and progressive.

      • No break. There will be no vote unless the law was followed. Besides, the minimum wage has been changed already, you must’ve missed the city council vote.

        We’ll see if the city votes to roll back the minimum wage change, or if it even comes to a public vote (which seems quite in doubt). I, for one, believe the polls that most people are behind it, as did the council when they unanimously passed it.

  8. I am a “boomer”. I now have a great life. But it was not always that way. For several years from my teens to early 30’s, I nearly always had roommates. And I also often worked 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. Nothing was given to me. There were no handouts. I had to work to improve my life all by myself, and I did it with hard work and common sense. This $15 an hour crap is nothing but the whims of people too lazy to do the work and making the wrong decisions to make their lives better.

    • Agreed. The concept of a “living wage” is among the more ridiculous to come from the Marxists in recent memory. These jobs were not designed to provide living wages, but rather to be stepping stones to long-term, stable careers. Ironically, under the new minimum wage law, there will be fewer of these jobs and they will be more competitive to obtain. The end result is that a lot of people who currently work minimum wage jobs at the rather high $9+/hr wage will become unemployed/new members of the ever-expanding dependent class. Once the economically-deaf Marxists realize this, of course, they’ll clamor for the minimum wage to be raised again, or they’ll push for a “guaranteed income.” Meanwhile, those of us who are interested in being productive members of the free economy (what remains of it) will continue with our lives, battling rising inflation and trying to protect our assets from the state and the dependent class.

      • What a load of nonsense. If we wanted the Tea Party economic policy to rule our city would’ve elected Ted Cruz to be mayor. We didn’t, so stop your whining. Or move to booming Mississippi where they love all that “free” market bull.

      • Spoken like a true Seattlite haha.

        Don’t worry, we are moving. I moved back to the East Coast because Seattle is filled with a bunch of self-entitled, passive-aggressive sponges who love big government and want to force people to think exactly like they do.

        I saved up for 6 years for a house down payment and left Capitol Hill a year ago and bought a gorgeous place in the Northeast. I don’t wake up to passed-out drunks in my carport, and I can actually walk to the grocery store without being accosted by homeless drug addicts and 20-something hippies every ten feet.

        You liberals pervert the meaning of words. A “living wage” has always meant the base salary for a family of four. Not some loser who slings espresso and smokes weed on the weekends.

        But hey, you get what you pay for! Or don’t pay for, in this case. Jobs will be harder to find, real estate prices will still skyrocket, and people like you will extend your hand for yet another penny from the State.

        Bon courage!

      • lmao!!!l!!!!!#$%@#$!@!!!!
        north east coast is way more self entitled with bigger government and higher taxes. rather ironic our regressive tax and booming economy affords you to save for a down payment in 6 years. you’re welcome and good luck dude! you need it.

      • I’m glad that you’re happy in the Northeast, and I too would like fewer drunks, street scum, panhandlers, and campers on Capitol Hill. But I wouldn’t live in the Northeast for any reason…the climate is horrible (cold in the winter, sticky-hot in summer) for one thing. And Seattle is blessed with the surrounding mountains, Puget Sound (aka Salish Sea), waterways everywhere, and a very temperate climate. I love it here! The positives far outweigh the negatives.

      • Really? Your comment is almost as laughable as the council that runs this town. But you’re not at all unique: just one more in the long list of people who are incapable of thinking outside the two-party paradigm and who assume that I don’t give the Republicans just as much shit for their equally insane (and largely fascist) ideas. Go back to your partisan muckraking; your mind is far too gone to be worthy of any salvage attempt.

      • Yeah, whatever. I think you’ve mistaken me with somebody who cares what your opinion is of me (or of anything else for that matter). Why don’t you go tell your mom instead, I’m sure she’ll listen.

        Teabagging fools think they are so special, don’t they? Now that’s a joke. With all its warts, this city is way too good for a teabagging free market fundie such as yourself.

      • I am not sure what PPP is, but if you are referring to the Consumer Price Index, it was about 60 when I entered the workforce. It is now about 240.

        Minimum wage back then was $2.30. If you apply the inflation rate from the Consumer Price Index ( 240 divided by 60 times $2.30), you get an inflation adjusted minimum wage of $9.20 when compared to the mid-late 70’s.

        So it was no better then than it is now, and somehow most of us were able to make ends meet and build a better life. It can be done with hard work, persistence, and thoughtful planning.

        Unfortunately there are some who believe they are entitled to a certain standard of living, and that someone other than themselves should assume the responsibility for giving them what is needed to satisfy their entitlement.

  9. It has become clear to me that there are two distinct parties of opinion on this issue – and they are polar opposites if each other.

    1) Everyday hard working people who have had to work and struggle to make ends meet; who have faced hard times, and gotten through them; who believe they are responsible for their own lives, and do not expect anyone to provide hand outs to them; who realize life isn’t always fair, but do their best to overcome the odds, and build a better life.

    2) People with a sense of entitlement, who believe the government (and the rest of the world) should help support them; who do not believe they are responsible for their own lives; expects hand outs; believe life is supposed to always be fair; and have no desire to work hard enough, and make the right decisions to better their lives.

    Thankfully, I am in the first group. I have no sympathy for people in the second group. Until they face reality, and do something to better their lives, they will always be on the outside looking in, wondering why they don’t have the “good life” like others do.

    You, and only you, are responsible for your destiny.

    • Yeah, yeah. Blah blah, we’ve heard it all before. Just another free market fundie standing on a street corner shouting his gospel. If you said anything that even remotely came close to reality I might even stop and listen to you, but it is clear your mind is gone to the propaganda. “If you work hard then you will succeed, and if you haven’t succeeded then you must not be working hard”. The world just doesn’t work like that teabagger, never has and never will.

      • For the record, I am not a teabagger – they repulse me to be honest. And my comments are not based upon propaganda. Rather, they are based upon life experience.

      • Jeff, don’t bother qualifying yourself to DoubleE. This person is incapable of understanding that free thought exists, as evident by its many assumptions of our political/societal ideologies.

      • Oh, it is clear you have no idea what free thought is. Free thinker, ha. Lazy thinker is more like it. If you were some “free thinker” like you believe yourself to be, you would realize your “free thoughts” are hardly original, and somebody who lumps you in with other people who think exactly like you do is actually a reasonable thing to do.

        Just because you think you are some genius doesn’t mean it’s true, and just because you and your teabagger friend are repulsed by the tea party doesn’t mean you don’t support the exact same economic policies.

  10. Thank you for posting the names of local businesses that are donating to Forward Seattle. With so many places to choose from to eat/drink/shop on the hill, it’s great to be able to vote with one’s dollars, which ever side of the debate one falls on. Please continue to do so, you could do a whole post that’s a rundown of which business owners are contributing to what causes!

  11. Oh, the horror! Most of the people supporting this stupidity don’t drive or have cars anyway, so what do I care? I don’t.

  12. I currently make $21/hour full time at an office job I’ve had for 7 years. Once the $15/hour minimum wage kicks in, I may be up to $23 by then. I will never get a 60%+ raise, so I will probably quit to wait tables for $15/hour + 20% tips = $40-$60 hour

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