Stand strong against corporate loopholes



It is truly historic that Seattle is getting close to a $15/hour legislation – a testament to the success that can be achieved through working class fightback.

During yesterday’s Select Committee on Minimum Wage, the Seattle City Council began discussing in detail the draft legislation and potential amendments. Click here to watch the full meeting.

Earlier this month, I wrote to explain some of my concerns with the draft. Unfortunately, since it was introduced, big business has been using council negotiations to erode the draft proposal even further, with discussion focusing around franchises, training wages and tip credit. Below are some of the resources that I have distributed to other Councilmembers to encourage an informed discussion on these important issues.

Franchises are not small businesses

The International Franchise Association (IFA) recently wrote Councilmembers to lament the fact that $15/hr would “destroy the established franchise model.” At hearings, specific franchises like Subway have rolled out owners in an attempt to present the model as small and family owned. This is a deliberate campaign of misinformation. As I mentioned during the meeting, a Good Jobs Seattle study has demonstrated the fact that Seattle franchises are not small businesses (PDF).

Franchise owners are not people of limited means, and their workers face very different circumstances (PDF). Fast-food workers are systematically underemployed, working only 24 hours a week on national average. Even here in Seattle, “a 24-hour-a-week worker making the Seattle median fast-food wage of $9.50 would earn only $11,856 in a year.” These employees are denied regular schedules and have to work second and sometimes even third jobs to make due. It’s clear that the current franchise model is rigged against workers.

Working Washington’s new study, “Franchisors and the Fast Food Industry” (PDF), explains in further detail how the franchise system systematically undermines workers for the benefit of those at the top. This is a crisis which affects us all. Demos has produced a study, “Fast Food Failure” (PDF), which explores how inequity in the fast food sector undermines the economy itself.

There is no such thing as a just training wage

With training wages being introduced as a possible part of the minimum wage legislation, I think it is important to understand the arguments being put forward.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) explains the lies which are used to justify a “Training Wage” loophole. Simply stated, raising the minimum wage does not cost teen jobs, and a training wage incentives employers to operate on a model of higher turnover.  Check out this document (PDF) for more background.

Who are Seattle’s Tipped Workers?

Puget Sound Sage recently asked, “Who are Seattle’s Tipped Workers?” (PDF). I encourage you to find out, and then read  “A Woman’s case for rejecting a ‘Tip Credit” by Anh Tran, my former campaign staff member.

Moving forward

As we all know, the fight for a strong $15/hour minimum wage in Seattle is not over. Every day, business continues to lobby to add training wages, to include a permanent tip credit and to extend the phase-in even further. We need you to continue to organize, mobilize and let Councilmembers know that if they fail to produce a strong $15 for workers, you will make sure that we get one by other means.

The Council could start voting on amendments as early as the next meeting. It will take place at 9:30am on Thursday, 5/29, in the Council chambers. Please come early and sign up to speak about how these loopholes will hurt the community.

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