Lawmakers & business owners react to push for $15 minimum wage

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SEATTLE — Fast-food workers have been saying it for months. Now Seattle City Council members are saying it too.

“You cannot support a family on $9.19 an hour,” Councilman Mike O’Brien told a crowd rallying outside City Hall Thursday night.

In Washington, $9.19 is the current minimum wage. Many people say it’s not enough to get by on.

Baw0BE6CcAAF1Yz“I’m only supporting myself,” said Karl Balogh, who works two fast-food jobs. “There are people out there who have kids and families to support. I can’t imagine how they can begin to do that when I’m having trouble.”

Crystal Thompson is a single mom, trying to support her family with her job at Domino’s Pizza.

“It’s hard, I’m living check to check,” she said.

She thinks major fast-food companies can afford to pay their workers more, so she’s pushing for a $15 minimum wage.

But if that passed in Seattle, small businesses like the family-owned Mimosa Café would also be forced to pay up.

“A big corporation, they probably have lots and lots of money. They have franchises all over helping them,” says Thui Nguyen. “But this is just one business. It’s just my mom.”

She’s not sure her mom could stay in business if she had to pay all employees $15 an hour or more.

Otman Bezzaz, the owner of Med Mix, says the only way he could afford to pay employees 70% more would be to charge customers more.

“Now you’re going to jump prices 70%. Not just me, but everybody’s going to do it to survive,” he said. “If not, I’m going to have to close the door. Then I’ll go work for $15, too.”

City Councilwoman-elect Kshama Sawant, who ran on the $15 minimum wage platform, was asked what she would say to those small business owners who would be affected.

“The biggest danger facing working people and small businesses, both, is the fact there’s not enough consumption power in the hands of working people,” she said. “When you can’t put a roof over your head, you don’t have money to buy extra goods and services. So the best thing we can do is to raise the wage to a point where people are able to carry out some consumption.”

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9 comments

  • SOCIALIST SAM

    Here's a tactic the fast-food strikers can try. On their picket signs say: 'We will SPIT in the food unless we get $15 an hour!!!!'. That should wake a few people up. Plus put fast food joints out of business so people will stop eating their unhealthy crap. Problem solved!!!

  • adam

    Fast food jobs are meant to be a stepping stone not a career. Here’s an idea go to school get a degree and get a better paying job. For those that have kids and can’t go to school maybee you should’ve used birth control I’m sure your getting child support from the father or collecting from the state anyways.

  • TexasOkieInSeattle

    So, Karl B is working at one fast food job & it doesn't pay enough so his solution is to get ANOTHER low-paying job? Sounds to me like Karl "ain't no so smart" & maybe there's a reason he's not paid much.
    I feel sorry for the single mom but she should keep looking & use the resources already in place TEMPORARILY until she can find better work. (I've seen that work hundreds of times for hundreds of people)
    You get paid what you earn or what you are worth. They told you how much you'd be getting paid at the interview & if not, it was on your FIRST check. You shouldn't have stcuk around for the second one.

  • TexasOkieInSeattle

    And think again if you're under the impression that the work won't get any harder for the extra cash. "With great compensation comes greater responsibility…" If you think you work hard now, wait until the boss is forced to pay you nearly double instead of paying you based on merit (like has been done since ever).
    As a former manager in that sad industry I will tell you how it works: each shift you have a set amount of labor hours that you can use in whatever combo works best. Let's say it's a burger place with "five guys" working there. When it is slow you may have 3 on the clock then 4 then the 5th person during peak hours with each dividing the workload as evenly as possible. As business decreases they get cut/sent home one by one until the end of shift guys remain.
    Now, if corporations still run like the always have (& I think we know they do) they won't allow the same increase in labor hour costs as the amount of the raises meaning that the place in our scenario now does the same amount of business with 2 guys then 3 then 4 all working their asses off & REALLY wishing things would just go back to how they were before…
    Wait tables. Drive pizza. Drive parcels. Be a valet. Get a better paying job. Get an education. When they say "Can you work for $10/hr?" either say "NO! Could YOU?" & walk out or say "That will be fine until my 30-day evaluation & I will expect $___ per hour or have to find other employment". When you go to a job interview you are also interviewing them too you know. It's true. Google it.

  • sdb1147

    $15.00 an hour for unskilled work is absurd. Many owners of boutique businesses don't even make the minimum wage themselves, by the the time they pay all wages, bills, rental & supplies. Wonder how many demanding this minimum wage also collect welfare or some kind of subsistence. At this rate, fast food establishments will be turning to full automation, as is already a norm in European & Asian countries.

  • cwl

    If you idiots are so financially smart to decide that business can afford more why don't you go start your own. The dumbness in your arguments is amazing. Low information voters.

  • armpit

    These people are stuck in these low paying jobs because they are, for varying reasons, not worth anymore. Most are not worth what they are paid. I am in a business where I have to go into these places and I find these places to be filled with buffoons.

  • My Veiw

    Paid activists destroying free enterprise one fry at a time. Learn a trade, get a degree, or deal with being broke. Jacking up minimum wage just jacks up the price of everything else, dummies.