A former SeaTac City Council member, who said his strong opposition to the $15 minimum wage there cost him his seat in last November’s election, is part of a grassroots organization of small-business owners and activists campaigning against a similar wage for Seattle.
Rick Forschler and other members of Sustainable Wages Seattle held a news conference outside Seattle City Hall today to make their case, calling a $15-an-hour wage hike a jobs killer.
It adds one more voice to the increasingly loud debate over the smallest amount employers should pay workers in this city. Groups also have been formed among those — labor, social activists, workers and others — who support increasing the minimum wage.
A panel convened by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has until the end of this month to make recommendations about a wage hike.
Forschler said state government already regulates minimum wage in this state and he sees no need for the city to step in. A higher minimum wage, he and those in his organization say, would hurt small businesses, while benefiting large employers and national chains able to afford to pay more.
Sustainable Wages Seattle hopes to collect signatures to eventually get a ballot initiative before voters and it wants to raise money for a defense fund for small businesses that are victims of wage-related lawsuits.
One member of the group, J. Boswell, describes himself as the son of a trucker who usually works for minimum wage plus tips and believes a wage hike — phased in or not — would be detrimental to minorities, immigrants and people with low skills.
“I do not understand how so many low-wage workers think they are going to go back to their jobs, making more money, without seeing their hours or benefits cut,” he said.
Another member, Courtney Lynn, who has operated Skin & Lash Secret in West Seattle for five years, said she’s considering expanding her business and hiring workers. “For me, a $15 minimum wage would destroy the potential for an expansion.” she said.