Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
October 8, 2013 at 9:06 AM
Increase the minimum wage or increase educational levels?
Thoughtful responses have piled up in my email inbox since my column about Proposition 1 which, if approved by City of SeaTac voters, would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for about 6,300 workers at Sea-Tac airport and nearby hotels, car-rental agencies and parking lots.
I disagree with the Nov. 5 ballot measure. There’s not much point in raising the minimum wage for thousands when the issues are wage depression for millions of workers and a yawning gap between the skills workers possess and the ones they need to have a shot at a good paying job. Going city by city – SeaTac today, Puyallup tomorrow - will result in a nationwide shift in the minimum wage by, oh, 2070.
Dean Shoemaker from Kent said: “Of course, not many have the talent and determination of a Subelbia. All I would ask is that the minimum wage stay up with inflation. Choose any decade in the last half century, any you want and track inflation and the minimum wage down to the present. Minimum wage has fallen behind which suggests that working folks have suffered a decline in their standard of living.”
Paying employees more can result in better quality workers and engender loyalty says John Hushagen, president of Seattle Tree Preservation, Inc.
“My company is one of oldest, largest, and most successful tree care companies in the entire region. Very few of my employees have more than a high school diploma or a GED…. When I have raised wages at my company, we have always done better because I get employee loyalty and a desire to be the best professional arborist he or she can be because they know that I care about more than putting more money in my pocket.”
Paul Pemberton from Seattle says the minimum wage debate should NOT be about education:
“This debate should be about putting a reasonable floor under the wage structure of these necessary workers so they can provide for their children. They need to actually be successful in their educational pursuits… Your column blatantly avoids the actual issue of working people in poverty and what this immensely rich society owes to those in the least interesting and rewarding jobs.”