The International Franchise Association, which represents franchise owners like those who own most McDonald’s restaurants, is taking to the airwaves to criticize an aspect of Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage law and unions that backed the measure.
But proponents of the law say the gambit won’t sway public opinion.
The IFA has already sued the city in federal court, arguing the legislation should treat franchise owners the same way it treats independent small-business owners.
Under the law, the independent small-business owners are allowed seven years to phase-in a $15 minimum wage, but large companies — including franchise owners — must comply in only three.
Rather than wait for a judge to rule on its recent request for a preliminary injunction that would block the part of the law it objects to, the IFA on Wednesday opened a second line of attack by launching a radio ad campaign.
The ad, which the IFA said is playing on KOMO Newsradio and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, tells listeners that “union officials have a selfish goal of singling out franchises in the new minimum wage law.”
The IFA claims the officials exploited the minimum wage push by using it in an effort to break the franchise business model and increase union membership rolls.
The ad says union president David Rolf of SEIU Healthcare 775W “spilled the beans” about the strategy, referring to conversations that Seattle nightclub owner Dave Meinert said he had with Rolf.
Meinert recounted the conversations in a court papers filed by the IFA.
“The last thing a low wage worker needs, even ones making $15 an hour, is a monthly bill for union dues,” the IFA ad says.
Sage Wilson, spokesperson for Working Washington, a group that lobbies for fast food workers, laughed off the radio campaign.
“It sounds like a joke,” Wilson said. “It seems so far from the debate we just had for a year in Seattle about the need for a $15 minimum wage. The idea that it would be a scandal that a union would support higher wages for low wage workers is absurd.”
The IFA may be buying radio time because it expects its legal challenge to fail, Wilson speculated.
“If they’re worried that public opinion is turning against them, they should be worried,” she said. “It is turning against them.”