Three things to keep in mind during Monday's hearings on minimum wage and paid sick days

Hearing on minimum wage & paid sick days
Monday, January 26, 2015, 1:30 pm
House Labor Committee
Hearing Room B, John L O'Brien Building
Poverty-wage workers, union members, economics experts, representatives of conservative policy groups, and business lobbyists are expected to testify.

Keep in mind:

  1. Business lobby groups have been making the same predictions of imminent disaster for more than 100 years — and the sky hasn't fallen yet. Back in 1915, a journalist looked at the impacts of the minimum wage law our state passed two years earlier, and noted that “None of the predictions made about the minimum wage before the passage of the law in Washington state came about to any appreciable extent."  (By the way, that first minimum wage was explicitly set based on “the necessary cost of living”.)

    To be fair, there was a good prediction a little more than fifteen years ago: "As if the Y2K bug wasn't enough to worry about this weekend, some Washington businesses say they're struggling to compensate for a big increase in the minimum wage..." That one's true: the minimum wage has devastated businesses exactly as much as Y2K did.
  2. They might get emotional: Sincere brow furrows and empathetic grimaces are pretty typical, but at a hearing on SeaTac Proposition 1, the manager of Cedarbrook Lodge said he was shaking in anguish and that "it really, really hurts" — right before he threatened to lay off staff if $15/hour passed in SeaTac. Then just weeks after SeaTac voters passed $15/hour anyway, he announced a $16 million expansion of the hotel
  3. Micro is not the same as macro, and having an existential crisis is not the same as making an argument. The restaurant business is tough, it's hard to keep customers coming in the door, and as the market grows, there's no end of competition for individual operators. But overall, the restaurant industry in Washington is booming. Restaurant payrolls are up 21% since Washington passed the nation’s highest minimum wage in 1998, and job growth in our state leads the nation. Maybe that's because when you give worker a raise, they're more likely to go to a restaurant once in a while.


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington: