Open letter to Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Council
Re: Current issues and solutions of income inequality and minimum wage in the City of Seattle
Dear Mayor Murray and members of Seattle City Council,
Forward Seattle is group of small business and community members, representing manufacturing, retailing and service industries, in addition to non-profit organizations. We are extremely distressed by the issue of income inequality in the city and have joined together to work with you and others on identifying and implementing a thoughtful, commonsense solution to this problem.
We believe that increasing the minimum wage is an important step towards addressing income inequality. At most of our businesses and organizations, workers’ starting wages are above the minimum wage set by the State as a floor – because its common sense, the market dictates it, and because we think it is the right thing to do. That said, any plan for a minimum wage increase must be crafted and administered in a way that is sustainable and responsible, not just for the small business community, but the people working as an integral part of this community, and the Seattle public at large.
Up to this point, our perspective has too often been drowned out or mischaracterized by special interest groups or more prominent voices in the debate. We write to you today to clarify our goals and to define our position in this conversation. Our proposal is dictated by the necessity of balancing the interests of the working poor, the economic welfare of all citizens of Seattle, and crafted utilizing our extensive experience with management of real-time data, projections and statistics.
We of Forward Seattle propose an increase in the minimum wage in the City of Seattle in the following manner:
- $12.50 as of 1.1.2015 for all businesses with annual sales above levels defining small business, as per SBA definition per industry; for all other businesses:
- $11.00 as of 1.1.2015
- $11.75 as of 1.1.2016
- $12.50 as of 1.1.2017; and that
Wages include: tip income, bonuses, commissions and profit-sharing as they are real, traceable and currently taxed as part of a worker’s income;
The current floor of $9.32 an hour be retained as the minimum wage for tipped and commissioned workers, adjusted annually to account for inflation;
No exception be made for collective bargaining exemptions; job retention v. wage growth are equally important to unionized and non-unionized workers;
Sufficient exemption and reasonable phase-in periods be provided for non-profits in direct service of the under-privileged as well as those supporting the arts community in order to allow enough time to re-draft their development plans and seek additional funding support if necessary;
Sensible rates be established for training wages, along with establishing a youth wage level for workers under 18 years of age; and that
The City urgently addresses the growing problem of unaffordable housing in the city, through an aggressive plan of developing multi-unit rental housing and accommodating it through incentives and zoning changes. This is the main issue depleting the purchasing power of the population.
Following a comprehensive study commissioned by the City of Seattle to evaluate actual impact on low-wage earners six months prior to the end of 2017, with close attention to business viability and wage increase effect overall, the Mayor, City Council and the general public will make a recommendation on how to move forward with additional increases in the minimum wage if any, and for what period of time, incrementally, factoring in the CPI.
Finding a smart and responsible way to increase the minimum wage is a matter of justice, solvency, sustainability and survival, not just for the Seattle small business community, but for the citizenry involved in them and the public at large.
We are looking forward to working with you on developing a minimum wage increase plan that supports workers and small businesses alike, in order to preserve the vibrancy of our city, and its role as a model and bastion of fairness, progress and business innovation and investment, for the advancement of all of its citizens.