The International Franchise Association has made defeating Seattle's $15 per hour minimum wage its "top policy fight," arguing that laws like these unfairly discriminate against franchisees, who will be lumped in with big businesses and forced to comply with the law by 2017, the earliest deadline of the staged roll-out. PayScale spoke via email with Chad Mackay, President and COO of El Gaucho, a high-end steakhouse chain based in Seattle, for his take on how the law could affect both businesses and workers.
At both the state and federal levels, campaigns to raise the minimum wage are gaining momentum. Last month, congressional democrats proposed a new bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020. And, the Fight for $15 movement has been heating up since it began in November of 2012. In more than 200 towns and cities, April 15, 2015 was marked by the largest protests by low-wage workers in the nation's history. But where does all of this leave the U.S., in comparison to other countries?
Ivar's, a seafood chain based in Seattle, deals a little differently with the usual problems facing restaurants. For example, most companies, faced with the challenge of generating PR, just whip up more creative ads. A few years ago, Ivar's did that ... and then put them at the bottom of the ocean. The organization put out the rumor that their late founder, Ivar Haglund, had placed billboards under Puget Sound. The signs, which were supposedly placed in 1954, bore slogans like: "Ivar's Chowder. Worth surfacing for. 75¢ a cup." Ivar's latest trick is no hoax: while some business owners have protested Seattle's minimum wage hike to $15 an hour minimum wage, the restaurant is rolling out a new, higher wage structure to staff before the phased deadlines.
Should we raise the minimum wage? On the surface, it seems like an easy question: only Ebeneezer Scrooge would suggest paying the lowest-earning, hardest-working employees a wage that won't support their families. When we delve deeper, however, the issue gets more complex.
In 20 states and the District of Columbia, the New Year meant higher wages for the lowest-paid workers. For states like Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia, the hike means that minimum-wage employees will make more than the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 an hour for the first time ever.
The Freedom Socialist Party, which broke away from the United States Socialist Workers Party in 1966, has been key in helping to drive new laws across the country to raise the minimum wage. Just this year, they helped cities like Seattle pass new laws that set the minimum wage at a a whopping $15 per hour, which will be phased in by April.
Seattle's new minimum wage of $15 per hour is more than twice the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Some say businesses will suffer and employers will be unable to hire workers. Franchise owners in Seattle have an additional gripe: many are claiming that franchises are unfairly grouped under the umbrella of large businesses.
If you need a job making $15 to $20 per hour, would you apply at Wal-Mart? If you live in Williston, North Dakota, you just might. The very fact that a company known for underpaying its workers is offering such wages has started some interesting conversations about minimum wage.
It’s not everyday that a college president decides to take a $90,000 pay cut for the benefit of low-wage workers. Last week however, Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, did just that. His decision sets a new precedent amongst presidents and CEOs to raise the bar on livable wages for employees.
One of the biggest arguments against raising the minimum wage has been a pay hike's potential impact on job growth. Many business groups argue that employers won't be able to hire more people if they can't offer low wages. However, recent data from the Department of Labor shows that this might not be the case. Twelve of the 13 states that raised their minimum wage since the beginning of the year have experienced more job growth than lower-wage states.