One fast food franchise owners’s phase-in towards acceptance

A Seattle Times look-ahead at the first phase-in towards the $15 minimum wage included some surprisingly interesting comments from Subway franchise owner David Jones. Jones told the Times that higher wages could lead him to increase prices by about 4% across-the-board. 

That’s a pretty modest figure — especially compared to the kinds of numbers the same franchisee has been shopping in numerous media interviews over the past year. In fact, since last May, his prediction has gone down from more than $1/sandwich (about 20%) all the way down to just 4%.

1. A few days before final passage of the minimum wage law, Q13 reported:

“David Jones, who owns a Subway franchise, said a footlong sub may go up by more than a dollar.”

2. Immediately after it passed, he told the Seattle Times:

Local franchisee David Jones, who owns two Subway stores in Seattle, puts his cost of a $15 minimum at $125,000 annually. He pays the stores’ 18 employees $10.50 an hour, on average; he figures he’ll have to raise sandwich prices by a dollar or more to maintain profits.

3. A month later, he told KIRO:

Jones said he will have to raise prices by 75 cents per sandwich to recover costs of the higher wages alone.

4. And then last week, as reality approaches, he told the Seattle Times:

He’s debating whether to raise prices on certain menu items or to impose a 4 percent surcharge on items across the board.

In less than a year, his projected price increase has gone down from $1+ per sandwich to a 4% increase — quite a drop. It’s a story in miniature of how threats and fears about minimum wage increases melt away into acceptance, and how the impacts are never what the sky-is-falling stories would suggest.

And that’s worth us all knowing for the future as workers keep on rising up for better pay in Bellevue, Tacoma, Aberdeen, Olympia, Kent, and across the state.