Over the past several months of minimum wage debate I’ve been told to adopt $15 now “because the rent won’t wait.”
I’ve been told raising the minimum wage will cost jobs.
In meetings I’ve heard questions, positions, opinions, pleadings, demands and accusations.
I’ve heard about what was compromised, what was horse-traded and what was a bait-and-switch.
I’ve heard heartfelt stories about small businesses and their “family” of workers.
I’ve heard ghastly stories of exploitation and manipulation.
I’ve heard compelling stories about small manufacturers and international cost competitiveness.
I’ve heard this is not an issue a city on its own can solve.
I’ve heard change must start in the cities.
I’ve heard pleas for an hour’s pay for an hour worked, nothing more nothing less.
I’ve heard compensation includes everything in box 1 of the W2, including tips.
I’ve heard raising the minimum wage will erase poverty and I’ve heard it will do nothing but move us toward being another San Francisco (a code term now for a pretty, expensive place imbued with nostalgia for a simpler, less expensive time).
I’ve heard we should “do the right thing” from every side.
When I try to apply the “do no harm” principle I’m left without knowing exactly what that means in this case. We voted today to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to a greater level than any other city in the country. That committee recommendation goes to the Full Council this coming Monday, June 2.
While it’s too soon to tell if we did the “right thing” what I do know is this: someone has to work the counter at the dry cleaners, someone has to learn to be a mechanic, and someone has to bus tables. People in these jobs have an increasingly tougher time making a life in Seattle. And after today, those someones will have more money to make everyday living just a little easier.