Topic: Minimum Wage
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December 8, 2013 at 7:02 AM
If you don’t like your salary, change your attitude about work
It would be nice if the fast food workers got a $5-plus pay raise, but would that office worker who is making $13 an hour get a $6-an-hour raise to maintain that pay equality? [“$15 pay push: Seattle’s turn,” page one, Dec. 5].
Fast-food jobs are entry-level jobs, much like pumping gas down in Oregon. And for them to start making more money than semi-skilled laborers is an insult. Isn’t this just fueling inflation? Are all the teachers’ aids at the University of Washington going to quit and get a higher paying job at Taco Bell? Why waste a couple hundred thousand dollars in education if the local Jack in the Box is paying more.
December 6, 2013 at 7:32 AM
Bad idea for everyone
Those in Seattle who think raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would turn flipping burgers into a career, raise your hands [“$15 pay push: Seattle’s turn,” page one, Dec. 5].
Those who think that the cost of doing business, including wages paid, has nothing to do with the cost of goods and services, raise your hand. Those with their hands up would undoubtedly vote for the raise in minimum wage. Those who think about the consequences would vote against it.
My first job paid $1 a day; bread was 10 cents a loaf, and gasoline was 13 cents a gallon — 8 gallons for one dollar. Was my first thought to demand a higher wage, or was it to prepare myself for a job that paid more? I chose the latter and that is the choice young people today should also make. Get off the street and prepare yourself for a better job.
November 21, 2013 at 7:36 PM
Washington already has the highest minimum wage, no need to go higher
The last several days I have been shaking my head in disbelief. I finally had to say something [“SeaTac minimum-wage measure leads by 46 votes,” Online, Nov. 16].
Can citizens now bring up an initiative and vote on a pay raise for themselves?
You may say no, it’s also people voting who will not get a raise. But let me tell you that those people are voting ‘yes’ because they know if everyone else in the area is getting a raise, they will have more leverage to demand more pay as well.
November 20, 2013 at 7:34 AM
Starter jobs are now lifetime occupations
A letter in the Nov. 16 paper proudly (and quite appropriately) describes how a low-paying starter job is a springboard to better things [“$15 minimum wage won’t help the most vulnerable get a job,” Opinion, Nov. 16].
When I, and I’m guessing that the writer also, was starting out, low-paying jobs were for high school or college students. When I left school, I could get a job, probably union, bucking rivets at Boeing in Seattle or polishing gears at Caterpillar near where I grew up.
November 17, 2013 at 8:07 AM
Tax credit and discounts will keep more workers employed
Recent articles have cited large companies shutting down entire wings of hotels to sneak under the radar, or reducing hours so the service to customers suffers (and those customers are lost), and others who just cannot make the $15 minimum wage for their workers withought any other changes go out of business ["$15 wage a crude tool to fix inequity," Opinion, Nov. 13].
Instead, why not try to find a way to make the bottom line for the owners the same (or better with continued growth) with either tax credits or discounts of one kind or another? — while keeping more workers employed with a living wage that will only help fewer people be so unnecessarily stressed. All people are always a part of a family, and everyone deserves to be able to have a decent-paying job and raise their families with dignity and respect, free from financial fears.
Why not let us all try to find an answer to placing more money into the hourly worker’s pockets (and keeping a stable or better answer for the business owners) so we all benefit?
I am a retired residential designer. Now, I have no job, very little income and no family — and have great empathy for those who still struggle against income and costs to try to keep things together.
This really has nothing to do with race, origin, or any other personal dynamics — this involves all of us.
Bruce Hill, Seattle
November 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM
Won’t help the most vulnerable get a job
The $15 minimum wage debate is fascinating. Even Mayor-elect Ed Murray expresses support. Let’s think this out.
It was my honor and opportunity to start working away from home at age 10. The irreplaceable life skills and experience it provided included a solid work ethic, personal responsibility, perseverance and the appreciation of small-business owners. I never saw a paycheck based on the mandated minimum wage before turning 21.
One original purpose of the Davis-Bacon Act federal minimum wage was to force employers to pay wages high enough to hire whites over blacks. Today minimum wage laws create discrimination against minorities, the unskilled and young entry-level workers. At $15 per hour, what business would consider hiring an ambitious, but inexperienced, prospective employee? Who would keep 12 workers on the staff if nine workers could be motivated at the new wage to take up the slack?
Some view profit as an obscene concept and think business owners are “making it on the backs of the poor.” In 57 years of employment, I never got a paycheck from a closed business or a bankrupt entrepreneur.
An entry-level job is a trade-off between accepting a starting wage and being taught vital skills to rise in the workforce. Mandating any minimum wage only robs the most disadvantaged among us.
Jeffrey Howard, Redmond
November 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Businesses don’t move and workers have a better life
Sharon Pian Chan’s heartfelt story left me in tears [“$15 wage a crude tool to fix inequity,” Opinion, Nov. 13].
How can society demand these hardworking business people pay more in wages? In fact, we should probably do away with any minimum wage based on this point of view.
But like most fantasies, none of the disasters these people predict will happen. I doubt any of these businesses will relocate to Texas or Mississippi: our “Third World” states.
What happens is what always happens: Businesses pay the higher wage and add a few bucks to the price of their goods and/or services. Life goes on and the hardworking employees of these hardworking business people have a better life.
The local economy gets a boost because these minimum-wage workers spend the extra money they get in their wages to increase local businesses. Everyone wins.
All independent studies show that increases in the minimum wage have operated as I describe above. Businesses don’t move and they don’t fire employees. They make price adjustments just like they do when other costs go up, like rent, utilities, insurance and other services they use. Do these hardworking business people move when their rents are raised? No.
Since all similar businesses in the area would have to pay the same minimum wage, nothing changes much. Oh, except thousands of workers have a better life.
Wow, my tears have suddenly disappeared and I feel a lot better.
Mike Mitte, Edmonds
November 14, 2013 at 6:30 AM
The plight of minimum-wage workers
The SeaTac experiment is extreme in the sense that it far exceeds even an inflation-adjusted increase for the minimum wage over the years [“Backers of SeaTac’s $15 wage floor eye Seattle,” page one, Nov. 7].
The Washington state minimum wage of $1.25 in 1963 would be equivalent to about $9.41 in today’s terms. So Washington is not far off the mark in inflationary terms. Unfortunately the rest of the nation has not kept pace.
If the federal government and/or the states had instituted an automatic inflation adjustment for the minimum wage from its inception, some of the extreme reactions we are seeing now could perhaps have been avoided. What is troubling is that folks who make $20 or $25 — after decades in careers that require specialized training — do not qualify for the kinds of additional subsidies and tax benefits that a relatively untrained $15 fast-food worker in SeaTac would receive. This reverse inequity is not receiving as much attention as the plight of minimum-wage workers, most of whom are on their way to some other career.
Jeff McGregor, Auburn
November 10, 2013 at 8:05 AM
No need for $15 minimum wage
After reading the article regarding the $15 an hour minimum wage for employees of SeaTac —attention is now turning to increasing the required minimum wage within Seattle — I find myself wondering if all of these jobs are worth getting paid $15 an hour ? [“Backers of SeaTac’s $15 wage floor eye Seattle,” page one, Nov. 7].
Specifically referencing the fast-food industry, and speaking as someone who worked a number of jobs in the business, there are a number of things you can expect to take away from a career working in fast food.
First, you will get a newfound respect for customer service skills. Second, you will come away with a comprehensive knowledge of nutritional values of fast food. And third (and most important) you will understand that working in the fast-food industry is intended to be a “steppingstone” career, not necessarily to provide the worker with a living wage.
I believe that requiring a heightened minimum wage can only result in negative consequences to business owners, especially within SeaTac, who have to pay higher rent to operate within an airport. Also, by raising the minimum wage, small-business owners may reduce the number of workers able to be hired, in a time when finding a job is already difficult.
Cody Brunsdon, Bellingham
November 1, 2013 at 6:29 AM
The American dream can’t be reached without basic living costs
I am an advocate for Asian American communities and a son of an immigrant small-business owner. I disagree with Sharon Pian Chan’s commentary on SeaTac’s Proposition 1 [How a $15 minimum wage would devastate immigrant businesses,” Online, Oct. 30].
While appearing to champion the cause of immigrant small-business owners, Chan conflates the issues and ignores the fact that SeaTac’s initiative exempts some of them from the $15-an-hour wage rate. Further, grandiose claims that “a higher minimum wage would sound a death knell” lack empirical evidence. What we do know is that small businesses in other airport cities (L.A., San Francisco, Oakland) that have raised the minimum wage have remained strong and vibrant.
Minimum-wage workers do indeed “dream of something bigger” — but how can they possibly achieve those dreams when their realities are a never-ending struggle for basic survival? Proposition 1 gives workers a fair shot at prosperity.
Here are the facts: Raising the minimum wage in SeaTac will benefit an airport workforce that is disproportionately immigrant. It would create opportunities for workers so their children have better access to education, their families can get on the road to financial stability, they can have better health outcomes and they can afford the training and education needed for career advancement.
That is the American dream.
Benjamin Sung Henry, president of Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment, Beacon Hill
Information in this letter, originally published at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 1, 2013, was corrected at 2:22 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2013. Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Benjamin Sung Henry is an advocate for Pacific Islander communities. He is an advocate for Asian American communities.
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