Thousands of readers took interest in my blog post last Monday highlighting the principles behind Seattle’s beloved Dick’s Drive-In chain, known for paying employees at least $10 an hour and offering benefits. Jim Spady, the company’s vice president and legal counsel, still adheres to his father Dick Spady’s core business philosophy: make a profit first, then take care of your employees and community.
Spady’s views resonated with folks who are thinking about the local and national debate about whether to raise the minimum wage from $9.19 to $15 per hour. Check out some of the most thoughtful viewpoints from readers to my blog post below.
A proposition to raise the minimum for airport-related employees is on the ballot in SeaTac. Fast-food workers in Seattle have attempted strikes demanding the same. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn opposes a land-use permit for a Whole Foods development in West Seattle over the grocer’s wages.
First, here’s an informal poll:
Now, time for some of your edited comments.
Redneck Gypsy 29:
I have to applaud Dick’s Drive-In for doing this. They are a private company that has chosen to do this with their profits. No, I do not think that every company should be forced to do this with their profits. But it has made me consider eating at Dick’s over other fast food places. Love their burgers and fries. Will have to see if there is one in Burien.
(Note to Redneck Gypsy 29: No Dick’s in Burien. You’ll have to go to one of these locations.)
20 Mule Team:
Bravo to Dick’s for doing this for their employees.
However, notice that Dick’s chooses to do this, they are not forced to do so, nor should they be.
I’d say that anyone who complains about the minimum wage should go to no other food chain than Dick’s.
The marketplace speaks very loudly indeed. When their practices hit them in the pocketbook, other chains will follow Dick’s example. The government does not need to butt in here and “fix the problem.”
High and dry:
This opinion should be required reading for every student in this country. Especially those who have been taught that corporations are evil and profit is a dirty word.
It explains in a simple, easy-to-understand (way) the philosophy of a company that has succeeded with their priorities straight: make the company profitable, take care of the employees, take care of the community — in that order.
Notice that making a profit is No. 1. Only when the company is profitable can it afford to hire people.
Love Rain and Fog:
It is time to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour?
I would advocate just the opposite. It’s time to drop the minimum wage to $5 per hour. Adults shouldn’t be looking to make a living wage at this kind of job. Let the market open back up to kids entering the job market and those who need to re-enter and establish skills then move on up to more skilled jobs that pay living wages. We have so many people on the dole because we’ve made sloth and irresponsibility a relatively survivable disease. Dick’s management gets this. They provide a hand up for the motivated, not a handout for the perpetual slacker.
Honestly, Dick’s simply has a classic American business model. Unfortunately for Americans, there aren’t many businesses like Dick’s still around. They have been replaced by corporations that only care about profit margins. Sure, Dick’s owners could make more profit if they cut benefits, but they don’t do that because, to them, their employees are as important as their profits. Not many other companies can say that.
Pretty simple: Raise the minimum wage across the board so it is a level field for all the businesses. Yes, the cost of things would go up, but you would be surprised how little. I would advocate doing it over a period of time. People at the bottom spend almost all of their money, so raising their wages is the best way to help the economy. When the top one percent take a bigger and bigger slice of the pie, it hurts the economy since they don’t spend it.
It is Econ 101.
If you are paying your workers less than $40,000 a year ($20 an hour), then you are requiring your fellow citizens to subsidize them with food and housing assistance, etc.
It is time to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, and to actively maintain aggregate demand and then let “markets work” within this context to obliterate the slave wage jobs. (But as part of this, we need schools to be highly disciplined places of hard work, producing more productive people and a good work ethic.)
Since most employers in the same type of business are not taking Dick’s approach, they need to pay a living wage at a minimum, irony intended. As much as we would like to freeze minimum wages in time, unless the cost of everything else is also frozen, you have to grant increases to keep up with the cost of living.
What people want to ignore is that these are not just transitional jobs for many, including older workers. They are the only jobs they can get, and more education and training will not help them when there are not enough of those jobs to transition to. In the case of older workers, they also have the additional age bias by employers to deal with.
To read all the reaction, check out the comments page on that Monday blog post.