City Hall

No Business-Backed Minimum Wage Initiative from OneSeattle

OneSeattle, the business-backed group that formed to put pressure on Mayor Ed Murray over his minimum wage proposal, will not file an initiative to compete with the Murray compromise.

By Erica C. Barnett May 28, 2014

OneSeattle, the business-backed group that formed to push for changes to Mayor Ed Murray's compromise $15 minimum wage proposal (including concessions such as including health care, bonuses, and any other benefits as part of workers' "total compensation" and a sub-minimum "training wage" for new employees) has decided not to pursue an initiative challenging the Murray compromise, which was passed by a mayor-appointed group called the Income Inequality Advisory Committee. 

Alex Fryer, a spokesman for the group, says they met yesterday and "we've decided not to go forward with an initiative." The point of the group, Fryer says, "was to get a wide variety of people to come together" from the business community to raise awareness of their issues, and they did that; now, he says, they'll focus on continuing to "engage" the city council, which still has to pass some version of the IIAC compromise. 

Nick Musser, owner of the downtown Seattle Icon Grill and head of the Seattle Restaurant Association, which is itself a member of OneSeattle, says, "I think you would find that a lot of our members would support a more reasonable option," but said the SRA hadn't made any decision yet to go it alone with its own initiative.

In addition to a training wage and a tip credit (in which tips would count toward the total $15 minimum), Musser says the SRA would like to see the tip credit made permanent (currently, it sunsets after several years), a later start date for the new wage mandate (July 1, as opposed to January 1, 2015), and a change in the definition of "employees" from individual workers (many of whom work part-time) to full-time equivalent workers (essentially, a measure of the total worker hours a business pays for instead of the total number of people it employs).

Changing that last provision, he says, would prevent some local businesses like Pagliacci Pizza and Anthony's from being considered "big businesses" (defined as those with more than 500 workers) under the new rules, which phase in more quickly for big businesses than small ones. 

Members of the IIAC had worried that businesses would propose an initiative to compete with the compromise.

Currently, another group on the left side of the issue, 15Now, is gathering signatures for its own initiative to pass an immediate $15 minimum for big businesses (those with more than 250 employees) and a three-year, phased-in $15 minimum for smaller ones, with no tip credit, training wage, or other concessions.

However, it's unclear whether they'll actually attempt to put that proposal on the ballot; right now, at least eight of nine council members seem inclined to pass Murray's proposal substantially as-is, and council member and 15Now organizer Kshama Sawant has said she hopes to amend Murray's proposal to put it more in line with 15Now's priorities.

(Murray, by the way, predicted that OneSeattle wouldn't push an initiative earlier this month, during a press conference where he rolled out the compromise proposal.)


Filed under
Show Comments