WORK THE VOTE — SEATTLE POSITION 9

Work the Vote is Working Washington's Voters Guide for the 2015 Elections. Follow along here and find out how the candidates for Seattle Council Position 9 (citywide) make their case for workers votes.   

Note: Every Seattle voter gets to cast ballot for someone to represent their district, and also gets to vote for a candidate in citywide Position 8 and Position 9. 


1) MAKE A BRIEF VIDEO

We asked all 18 candidates for Seattle City Council to make a brief, simple video — using just their voice, their cell phone, and maybe a selfie stick — that answers the question:

HOW WILL WORKERS BE BETTER OFF IF YOU'RE ELECTED?

Here's what the candidates sent in:

Bill Bradburd

Lorena González


2) CHAMBER OF SECRETS?

Big business lobby groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Restaurant Association are typically the most prominent opponents of higher wages, paid sick days, and other workers rights issues. They also endorse candidates, but their process and agenda are bit of a mystery. We know they have questionnaires and even interviews, but what happens there is rarely made public, and it's not always clear why they end up backing the candidates they do.

SO WE ASKED EACH CANDIDATE TO GO PUBLIC WITH THE CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRES THEY COMPLETED FOR THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND THE WASHINGTON RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION (AKA WASHINGTON HOSPITALITY PAC).

In addition, we asked for them to answer two additional questions: 

1. If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

2. Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did.

Here's what the candidates sent in:

Bill Bradburd

"I did not submit questionnaires to these these groups."


1) If you or your opponent has received an endorsement, direct contributions, or an independent expenditure on your behalf from either of these groups.

  • I have not received any such endorsement or money from the Chamber or WRA.  
  • My opponent is endorsed by Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (Chamber's political arm) and has received max donation from them.  And she has been promoted to their membership (see email below).
  • She has also accepted max contribution from Alaska Air, who continues the anti-$15 fight
  • Lina diLelleo Morton & Tamara Murphy (owners of upscale Terra Plata Restaurant ) who opposed raise in minimum wage are sponsoring a fundraiser for her along with a who's who of Seattle real estate development
  • She has also received money from the WA Retail Association Seattle, another low-wage industry

2) Why you think these business lobby groups made the endorsements and spent their resources as they did?

  • I have advocated for a living wage, development impact fees, Inclusionary Zoning (far higher than the meager HALA levels negotiated by the attorney supporting my opponent as part of the "Grand Bargain" and who has represented developers suing the City over affordable housing incentives) and Community Benefits Agreements on development projects (also opposed by developers represented by the Chamber)
  • I have publicly stated that we are giving too many public subsidies to big business
  • I believe that my opponent is a safe choice for them because of her loyalty to the Mayor, the funding she is receiving from Chamber members, and downtown and development interests, and because she has never stated any policy positions in opposition to their interests.
  • She was part of the negotiation that turned "$15 Now" into "$15 in several years"
  • In my interview with the Chamber I told them that $15 was a great start, but I'm interested in moving quickly towards a living wage.

Lorena González

  Click image for complete CASE questionnaire.

Click image for complete CASE questionnaire.

No response to questions submitted.


3) No place like home?

Affordable housing is a growing crisis in Seattle, so we asked the candidates to find housing on Craigslist or some other source that they could afford as a full-time minimum wage worker,then plan out their commute — by public transit — to the Ballard Taco Bell (the site of Seattle’s first fast food strike line). We asked them to include a link to the listing they picked, how they’d be able to afford it, how much time their commute would take, and anything else they noticed along the the way.

Here's what the candidates sent in:

BILL BRADBURD


$1500 monthly earnings after tax: $1500
Rent: ($750)
Bills: (Share of Electric/Water/Sewage/ Internet, and personal phone): ($150)
Groceries, Personal expenses: ($300)
Transportation - to/from work $5/day: ($100)
Savings: ($100)
Residual Balance: $100
I was able to find a room for rent in the U-District. https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/apa/5255951302.html

My hypothetical commute would be via the 44 (see attached image) which under current public transportation conditions could be very stressful because on on-time failures in the U Dist. With a minimum commute time of 30 minutes, my experience has taught me that bad weather, traffic, and bus delays could easily make this an hour-long commute both ways.

This budget doesn’t give me very much room for savings, and outside of planning a budget, it is difficult to imagine actually putting money away on this income. I had to speculate that since I'm able to save on my future budget a small amount each month, that I have had the same privilege prior - allowing me to be able to pay the $650 security deposit without making it a part of my monthly budget. 

What I noticed in searching, was that it was near impossible to find an independent living situation in Seattle for a person on minimum wage. In fact, I had done this part of the questionnaire yesterday and answered the question using a different location. Unfortunately, as I went to edit my response today - the unit rented and the post had been removed. Were I trying desperately to find housing - this would a very discouraging turn of events. There were a small sampling of offers other than shared-living (micro-housing mostly), but the need for first/last + fees scared me off on the current budget. As such, my concern is that my ability to find housing is primarily impacted by the interviews I would be doing for people searching for a roommate. 

In addition, the residual balance leaves little for health insurance and other un-budgeted expenses. It's possible I will face the fine under the ACA for not being able to afford healthcare at this time. 
Another issue is the possibility that hours at Taco Bell may not be held at 40 which would seriously disrupt this budget.  A second job may be necessary...

I also saw other room shares that had slightly less rent but were far more inconvenient to this job location or had 5 or more people in the house (i.e. a less desirable living situation).

LORENA GONZALEz

I found one potential housing option that might work for me and my monthly salary of $1,500 (and by “work for me” I mean something that won’t take up my entire salary, which the majority of listings would have).

The most appealing listing for me was the room for rent in a Capitol Hill house for $625 per month, roughly around 23rd and E Cherry (exact address not available). You can find it here: https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/apa/5264805024.html. 

I would be sharing a house with 3 other people, as well as “two units” rented out below me, so it would be a full house/property. However, I would get my own room, access to a full kitchen and laundry on site. Considering that most of the other options within my budget (which I capped at 800) were micro-units, these are pretty big advantages. I assume they might want first and last, which would be $1250. That’s most of my salary, so I would have to take out a line of credit at the bank to get enough money to move in. Unfortunately, this now means I’m moving into my housing already in debt. Also, my housing will take up about 42% of my salary. This means I can’t really spend more than $100 a week on food and necessities if I want to pay off my move in loan within 6 months. So I’ll be using that great kitchen to cook myself ramen every night.

The downside of this house is that it is in Capitol Hill and I work in Ballard. Fortunately, it’s in a bus transit-rich area. If I walk to 23rd and Cherry, I can take one of two routes to work. I can catch the 3 to downtown and transfer to the D line express to Ballard, which will drop me off right in front of work at Taco Bell. In a pinch, I could also catch the 38 to UW Medical Center and transfer to the 44, which would drop me off about 4 blocks from work. If the house is closer to E Union street (craigslist doesn’t give the exact address), I could catch the 2 bus on E Union and transfer to the D express line downtown. No matter how you cut it, I should expect at 40 to 60 minute commute. If I’m traveling during rush hours, it would definitely be an hour, especially as the 2 and 3 tend to be slow and usually running behind. This means I need to budget $5 - $5.50 a day in bus fare for work ($100/mo for work transit, which means between housing, transit and food I’m up $1,125 in expenses leaving me $375 a month to pay off my move-in loan).

Key Takeaways: It’s practically impossible for a minimum wage worker to live without debt and find safe housing in this city. Finding housing under 50% of a minimum wage worker’s salary is virtually impossible - I only found 1, halfway across town. The only housing under $800 near my place of work (that I was able to find) was a $795/month micro-housing unit 3.5 miles away from Taco Bell (with an application fee and massive deposit as well, including a $100 non-refundable portion). This level of economic injustice is precisely why I am running for a city-wide position (9). We need to ensure housing is available to everyone who wishes to live and work in this city. As someone who worked 3 jobs to pay for college and knows the struggle between getting enough to eat and paying the rent, I look forward to taking housing affordability head on. 

Talk again soon, 

 - Lorena


4) TIME BANDITS

Increasing numbers of workers get almost no notice at all of their schedules. Especially in food service, retail, and other low-wage industries, workers might not know when they’re working until a day or two before the workweek begins. Their hours can be changed with almost zero notice. Some are required to call-in every morning to see if they’re working that day. And the number of hours they’re scheduled for can vary wildly from week to week. So here's our final question for the candidates:

WHAT POLICIES DO YOU BELIEVE SHOULD BE ADVANCED TO ENSURE WORKERS HAVE ACCESS TO FAIR WORKWEEKS? AND SINCE IT’S RELATED, WE’D ALSO LIKE TO HEAR A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS THE THE RIGHT BUDGET FOR AND RIGHT APPROACH TO ENFORCING LABOR STANDARDS IN OUR CITY.

Here's what the candidates sent in:

Bill Braburd

No answer submitted yet.

Lorena González

Low-wage workers, women with children and people taking care of their aging parents undoubtedly suffer the brunt of the unpredictable work schedule and the lack of consistent hours. This is an equity crisis. I would be proud to sponsor legislation similar to the laws recently passed in San Francisco and Vermont that would require employers, particularly retail, grocery and restaurants employers, to post employee’s schedules 14 days in advance, pay workers when changing their schedule with less than 24 hours notice and allow the same access to requests for time off and particular work schedules to part-time workers that they do for full-time workers. I would work with labor and business leaders to find an equitable solution that would be right for Seattle and would provide relief to as many workers as possible.

In terms of oversight, I am interested in learning more about potential business licensing fees that would generate revenue to increase the work being done at the Office of Labor Standards. If we are to pass meaningful legislation to ensure fair work weeks, we must make sure that Labor Standards has the tools it needs to follow through effectively.

- Lorena


ON RUNFORTHEMONEY.ORG…

Check out runforthemoney.org for info about big-dollar independent expenditures in this year's City Council races.

ABOUT POSITION 9

Seattle Council Position 9 is one of two citywide council seats. City council races are officially non-partisan — nobody is listed on the ballot as a Democrat, a Republican, or a member of any other party. Neither of the candidates in this race currently serves on the City Council. 

Note: Everyone gets to vote for a candidate for their district, and also in the races for the two council seats that represent everyone in the city. Check out the guide for your district too!

RETURN YOUR BALLOT BY NOVEMBER 3RD

Ballots will be mailed out in mid-October, and must be postmarked by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2015