‘SeaTac is proving trickle-down economics wrong’

People rally in support of a $15 minimum wage at Seattle Central Community College in Seattle, Washington March 15, 2014.
People rally in support of a $15 minimum wage at Seattle Central Community College in Seattle, Washington March 15, 2014.  Jason Redmond/Reuters

‘SeaTac is proving trickle-down economics wrong’

09/08/14 11:18 AM
The community of SeaTac, Washington, home to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, this year became the first in the nation to approve a $15 minimum wage law.
It’s been more than eight months since the policy took effect, and Dana Milbank highlighted the results over the weekend.
As fast-food workers demonstrate nationwide for a $15 hourly wage, and congressional Republicans fight off a $10 federal minimum, little SeaTac has something to offer the debate. Its neighbor, Seattle, was the first big city to approve a $15 wage, this spring, but that doesn’t start phasing in until next year. SeaTac did it all at once. And, though there’s nothing definitive, this much is clear: The sky did not fall.
“SeaTac is proving trickle-down economics wrong,” says David Rolf, the Service Employees International Union official who helped lead the $15 effort in SeaTac and Seattle, “because when workers prosper, so do communities and businesses.”
In fairness, SeaTac is a small community and the number of affected workers is quite modest, making this a difficult test case. Still, as Milbank’s piece noted, the owner of a SeaTac hotel, who had strongly opposed the minimum-wage increase during the 2013 debate, said the hike would invariably lead to local layoffs and eliminated jobs.
That was last year. This year, with the $15 minimum wage in effect, the hotel is moving forward with a multi-million dollar expansion anyway.
And what of Seattle, which will soon have easily the highest minimum wage of any major U.S. city?
Milbank’s column added these valuable insights.
In Seattle last week, I stopped in at the jammed Palace Kitchen, flagship of Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas, who runs upward of 15 establishments. He warned in April that the $15 wage could “be the most serious threat to our ability to compete,” and he predicted that “we would lose maybe a quarter of the restaurants in town.” Yet Douglas has opened, or announced, five new restaurants this year.
Likewise, the International Franchise Association has sued to block implementation of the law, arguing that nobody “in their right mind” would become a franchisee in Seattle. Yet Togo’s sandwiches, a franchise chain, is expanding into Seattle, saying the $15 wage isn’t a deterrent.
And a spokesman for Weyerhaeuser, the venerable wood and paper company, says the $15 wage didn’t factor into its decision, announced last month, to move its headquarters and 800 employees to Seattle from outside Tacoma.
It’s against this backdrop that the political debate continues to unfold. The White House made a minimum-wage increase the subject of its official weekly address over the weekend, and just last week, two Republican opponents of a wage hike – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate hopeful Rep. Tom Cotton – both started hedging on whether an increase is a good idea.

My Word: We need Measure R Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

Eureka Times-Standard Guest Opinion, posted online 9/4/14
printed in paper on 9/5/14, page A4

We need Measure R: Support the Eureka Fair Wage Act

By Verbena Lea

“Poverty level wages are not a gamble, they’re a guaranteed loss for the community” — Working Families Party.

Working people are ripped off by misguided public policy which claims that giving more money to the already-wealthy creates jobs. This policy fails us because it is based on a lie. When government fails to meet the community’s needs, the people come together to craft a solution.

The solution to poverty level wages is to raise them. Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act, does just that. Larger employers will pay their workers a minimum of $12 an hour. Smaller businesses, those with 24 or fewer employees, can continue to pay the current state minimum of $9 an hour if they chose.

We have over seven decades of data about what happens when we raise the minimum wage. Employment and economic activity go up. Opportunities increase for everyone. In 2012, for example, San Jose residents raised the minimum wage for all workers $2 more an hour. Throughout the first year, unemployment dropped two points and 9,000 new businesses opened. Surrounding communities, including Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Berkeley, and Richmond, are raising wages to keep pace with the competitive, high-wage oasis that is San Jose.

Eureka needs Measure R.

Some believe that workers should be paid poverty wages for doing jobs of “unskilled labor,” even if their labor and time generate millions for their employers. First, there is no such thing as unskilled labor. Every person brings the skills of life experience, social interaction, and personal education to every task.

“When someone works for less pay than she can live on — when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently — then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The ‘working poor,’ as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.” — author Barbara Eherenreich.

The minimum wage was designed in 1938 — to alleviate poverty. Today, the minimum wage has lost so much buying power that families working full-time struggle to survive. When low-wage workers are paid more fairly, they will earn enough to live independent lives. They can save for their future and that of their children.

State and federal minimum wage increases are NOT indexed to inflation. Measure R is. If prices go up, wages will keep pace.

Since 1975, people receiving “fixed income” benefits have had yearly cost-of-living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. Before 1975, they had to wait around until Congress decided it was time for an arbitrary increase. This is still the reality for minimum wage workers in this country. If you’re going to call anything a “fixed income,” let the historical record show that it is the wage of the low-paid worker. We are no longer waiting for legislators to address economic realities. Measure R will result in a fair wage that’s finally indexed to inflation. The cost of living is always rising, and that is not a reason to keep your neighbors living in poverty.

We need Measure R.

Low-wage workers spend their money here at home. Measure R means people can meet their needs and afford leisure activities: go out to dinner and a movie; listen to live local bands with a beverage down at Siren’s Song; take their children to the bouncy house at Bayshore Mall.

More money circulating through the hands of local workers, then passing through local businesses rather than corporate headquarters, is vital to rejuvenate Eureka’s economy.

Measure R is the right thing to do morally. Being paid a fair wage for your labor is what gives dignity to work. Measure R is the right thing to do fiscally. We live in a demand-driven economy; you can’t drive demand on poverty-level wages.

“Someday low-wage workers will rise up and demand to be treated fairly, and when that day comes everyone will be better off.” — Ehrenreich, “Nickel and Dimed.”

We need Measure R, the Eureka Fair Wage Act.  Demand Measure R.

Verbena Lea, one of the drafters of Measure R, resides in Eureka and submitted this “My Word” on behalf of the Fair Wage Folks, a committee of Measure R’s drafters and supporters.

 

“Measure R: An overview of Eureka’s Fair Wage Act” / Times-Standard front page 9-4-14

By Will Houston  whouston@times-standard.com

from Editor’s Note:  This is the first story in a four-part series looking at Eureka’s Fair Wage Act, known as Measure R, which will be on the city’s Nov. 4 General Election ballot. ….

“…There are too many people living in poverty here — working, but can’t afford rent, working and going to school, but not spending money. City government does nothing to change that for the majority of Eurekans. Large profitable employers can afford to pay $12 an hour, a fair wage.”

Read the article here: http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_26465327/measure-r-an-overview-eurekas-fair-wage-act

 

Take the poll on the left too! We voted $15 (Seattle!!)

Three Reports on Raising Wages- the smart AND right thing to do!

Local Minimum Wage Laws, Impacts on Workers, Families and Business

Report prepared for the Seattle Income Inequality Advisory Committee,
March 2014
Michael Reich- UC Berkeley Professor of Economics and Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley
Ken Jacobs- UC Berkeley, Chair, Center for Labor Research and Education, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Annette Bernhardt- UC Berkeley Visiting Professor of Sociology and Visiting Researcher, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

Citywide Minimum Wage Laws, A New Policy Tool for Local Governments

Paul Sonn, Brennan Center:  The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. Our mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.

Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

David Card and  Alan B. Krueger-  Department of Economics, Princeton University Princeton, NJ;  Published in The American Economic Review, Vol. 84, No. 4. (Sep., 1994), pp. 772-793.

50% OF NYC VOTERS SUPPORT $13 MINIMUM WAGE: Quinnipiac University POLL

Broad support in NYC for higher minimum wage, poll shows

NEW YORK Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:14pm EDT

 NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Yorkers strongly back hiking the minimum wage, a poll showed on Thursday, while their support for the police department hit new lows under a mayor seeking to improve community relations.

Half of the city voters surveyed said they would support an increase in New York’s minimum wage to $13 an hour from $8, while a third approved of a hike to $10.10, the poll by Quinnipiac University showed.

Only about one in 10 said the rate should stay where it is, it said.

The findings come in the wake of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s amending of a bill to boost the minimum wage.

The proposal, which Silver called a top priority as the legislative session comes to a close, would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, indexed to inflation, and allow municipalities to push wages as much as 30 percent higher.

 

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/us-usa-new-york-police-idUSKBN0EN27920140612

 

21. Do you think the minimum wage in New York City of $8.00 an hour should be raised to $10.10 an hour, or to $13.00 an hour, or shouldn’t New York City’s minimum wage be raised?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    Hsp
 
Raised to $10.10     35%    35%    33%    42%    33%    37%    37%    32%    39%
Raised to $13.00     50     34     61     40     50     51     42     59     57
Shouldn't be raised  11     30      5     13     12     11     18      5      2
DK/NA                 3      1      1      6      5      2      2      4      2
 

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2051

$13 Proposal Moves Ahead in San Diego

Minimum wage proposal moves forward

Posted: Jun 11, 2014 6:46 AM PDT

Video Report By Kelly Hessedal, Reporter

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A plan to put a proposed incremental increase in the minimum wage before San Diego voters in November was passed Wednesday by the City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

City Council President Todd Gloria is leading a drive to get the proposal, which would also require that employers provide five earned sick days each year, on the ballot in this fall’s general election. His plan, passed 4-1 at the committee level, will now go before the full City Council.

 

http://www.cbs8.com/story/25749337/minimum-wage-proposal-moves-forward

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