FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 2
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Small business owners helped develop and support Seattle’s historic highest-in-the-nation minimum wage law, designed to increase economic security for low-wage workers, boost the local economy, and support small business success
Seattle, WA – Today, small business owners with the Main Street Alliance applauded the unanimous passage of Seattle’s highest-in-the-nation minimum wage law.
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for 15,” said Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, while supporters celebrated with ice cream and cake at a party on the steps of city hall following the vote. “We’re not waiting for Congress or giant corporate CEOs to act. Seattle’s $15 minimum wage will not only help low-wage workers – it will boost the local economy and help small businesses succeed. The economics are simple. I sell more ice cream when working families have more money in their pockets to take their kids out for a treat.”
Under the law, which is expected to be quickly signed by Mayor Ed Murray, 100,000 low-wage workers will receive their first wage increases on April 1, 2015. The law phases in a $15 minimum wage over 3-7 years depending on the size of business. A sunsetted “guaranteed minimum compensation” measure establishes a temporary small employer responsibility on top of the minimum wage that can include employer-paid health care, customer-paid tips, or additional employer-paid wages. Unlike a “tip credit,” the transitional minimum compensation responsibility is above the minimum wage, not a credit below.
Main Street Alliance leaders worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help craft elements of the plan, and provided critical support leading up to today’s passage by city council, including a storefront poster campaign for small businesses to show their support.
“Today, I’m contemplative and grateful for the many voices that made today’s historic vote possible,” said Joe Fugere, owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, who served on the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee that developed Seattle’s $15 wage plan. “During this process, small business owners with the Main Street Alliance brought a principled small business voice to the table to find common ground, because we know our economy is built from the bottom up, not the top down. Our local economy is stronger when low-income and middle class families have greater economic security and more money to spend, and it’s good to provide small businesses time to reap the benefits of increasing consumer demand while transitioning to a $15 wage.”
Last month, CNN Money reported that jurisdictions with the highest minimum wages also led the nation in small business jobs growth, according to figures from payroll processor Paychex.
“In the first decade of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law, low-wage consumers will have nearly $3 billion more to spend in the local economy,” said Deb Schaack, owner of Central Physical Therapy and Fitness. “Small businesses won’t just survive, they will thrive.”
Small business leaders noted that while Seattle is the first jurisdiction to enact a $15 minimum wage, it likely won’t be the last.
“I will be implementing a $15 wage company-wide, both in and outside of Seattle,” said Consuelo Gomez, owner of Marty K, a facilities maintenance company conducting business up and down the I-5 corridor. “I hope Seattle’s law provides momentum for other cities, states, and the federal government to act. Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do.”
"Congratulations Seattle, from Chicago,” said David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering, and a member of the Main Street Alliance Executive Board. “Raising the minimum wage supports small business success by increasing aggregate consumer demand. Thank you for setting an example for the rest of the country. Time to get to work and follow your lead."
“Seattle’s $15 minimum wage provides an example for the rest of the country for how to increase economic security for low-wage workers, boost the local economy, and support small business success at the same time,” added Amanda Ballantyne, Main Street Alliance’s National Network Director. “Who’s next?”
The Main Street Alliance is a network of state and locally based small business coalitions. The Main Street Alliance and its state affiliates create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies.