An open letter from Working Washington leaders in Tacoma to the Mayor & City Council

We are Tacoma fast food workers, supporters of Working Washington, and leaders in the statewide movement for a $15 minimum wage. Two years of strikes, rallies, and other actions by workers like us have changed the conversation about poverty wages, to the point where thousands of voters signed a grassroots initiative to raise the minimum wage in Tacoma, and even local business lobby groups seem to recognize that nobody can support themselves on $9.47/hour.

As City Councilmembers, you have an incredible opportunity before you to seize on this new consensus and raise up Tacoma by advancing a strong minimum wage law which lifts workers out of poverty and boosts our economy. Proposal A, the majority report of the task force, provides an excellent framework — provided that you ensure giant fast food franchises are treated like the large national enterprises they truly are. However, some of the other proposals currently being discussed take far too long to deliver far too little to Tacoma workers. That could leave voters with an extremely difficult choice in November.

We will await the council’s decision on what to send to the ballot before making a final recommendation on the right choice for Tacoma workers & our communities. But if forced to choose between a quick raise to $15 and a slow, uncertain, loophole-laden phase-in to $12, voters might very well have no real choice but to approve the ballot measure that actually gets fast food workers to a living wage.

After all, there’s no doubt Tacoma needs a raise — and there’s no doubt the giant fast food chains can afford it. If the Council is seeking broad consensus on a minimum wage proposal that can pass in November, we urge you to build on the work of the majority recommendation of the minimum wage task force, and put forward a proposal that reflects these basic facts:

  1. McDonald’s is a multi-billion dollar corporation, not a small business. 
    The giant fast food chains can afford to pay a living wage, and they don’t need a special franchise loophole. No matter what they try to say, these are integrated national enterprises, not independent operations. That’s why every Taco Bell has the same food, every Subway has the same smell, and every McDonald’s advertises the same “billions & billions served”.
  2. We need to get to $15. 
    Fast food workers from Manhattan to St. Louis to Los Angeles and SeaTac to Olympia to Yakima are all calling for $15 because it’s a baseline for what workers need to support themselves. According to a study by the Alliance for a Just Society, you need a full-time job paying $15.89 to afford the basics in Pierce County — and that’s for a single adult.
  3. Low wages are holding back Tacoma’s economy. 
    Thousands of workers like us are being paid poverty wages while we serve the customers of McDonald’s, Burger King, and other multi-billion dollar companies. When we’re not paid enough to afford the basics & contribute to the economy, it means less demand for goods & service here in Tacoma, and less money circulating in our communities.

We urge you to avoid a confusing and divisive ballot fight by coming together on a minimum wage proposal that fast food workers, community leaders, and independent businesses can all support enthusiastically: one that gets us to $15 without creating any new McLoopholes.

Sejal Parikh, Working Washington, Executive Director
David Chase, McDonald’s
Jasmin Ferrante, McDonald’s
Jesse Griggs, McDonald's
Matt Logan, Shell
Will Marquez, McDonald’s
Monyae Mitchell, Red Lava Lounge
Alexa Page, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s
Ivory Polnett, Wendy’s
Dajon Rajland, McDonald’s
Cynna Robertson, McDonald’s
Jeremy Taylor, McDonald’s