You might have missed this small bit of food news: the Flying Apron gluten-free bakery is opening a new location in Seattle. Items like this are easy to miss because in a booming restaurant and retail environment like Seattle where higher wages have been boosting business for years now, yet another new location of yet another small business is hardly newsworthy on its own.
So why is this new business opening in Seattle different from every other new business opening in Seattle? Because four years ago the owner of Flying Apron bakery chaired the failed effort to repeal Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law. That means that even this trickle-down dead-ender can see in her own finances that raising wages raises up the whole economy. Because when more people have more money, it means more customers for more businesses. Including gluten-free bakeries.
So can we end this debate now? Because unless you’re a paid business lobbyist or a false-equivalence-peddler, the evidence from Seattle is beyond overwhelming: raising wages means workers do better, and the economy grows stronger. Even the person who literally led the campaign to repeal our minimum wage law can see that now.
There’s a lot of money invested in not giving up on this stuff though. So to really make the case, let’s flash back to 2014, when Seattle was deep in the midst of debating the $15 minimum wage. Back then there were more than a couple business owners who stepped out against economic sense to oppose higher wages. But Angela Cough, the owner of Flying Apron and several other businesses, wasn’t just any opponent of higher wages. She chaired the campaign to repeal Seattle’s minimum wage law, and even lending $15,000 in personal funds at the last minute in a failed attempt to get the repeal on the ballot.
Over the months of the campaign, she made her case pretty clear:
Cough told Reuters in 2014 that the $15 law would be “pretty damaging to the city from the business perspective, and from the workers’ perspective” because “a number of businesses are preparing to move from Seattle or halt expansions.” But four years later business is booming in Seattle and Cough herself is opening a second city location. Oops!
Cough told the National Review in 2014 that “We didn’t feel that the smallest of businesses or nonprofits could weather that increase” to $15. Four years later, the increase has arrived, and her small business is expanding from 1 to 2 Seattle locations.
With some prescience, Cough asked Vice News back then that “If we come up with an increase in the minimum wage and we find that there are detrimental impacts to that,” Cough said, “how can we set up a process to where we can actually measure those impacts based on whatever agreed upon criteria we have?” Perhaps expanding your own business footprint is one such measurement?
But we’ll admit that one time she was right: she said the stability of Seattle’s economic future was at stake with the $15 law.
And that’s why it’s so important that we passed $15 and secured economic stability for more than 100,000 workers in our state.
But don’t despair, things aren’t all that bad for the very consistently wrong Flying Apron owner. Because when you own a business, being wrong about minimum wage still means that you get to expand your chain. You probably just hope nobody remembers what you had predicted.