San Francisco voters will have the opportunity to join Seattleites in the unknown territory of a $15/hour minimum wage this November. San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee—who is, of course, labor-backed—approved a ballot initiative that would raise the current $10.74/hour base wage to $12.25 next May, then to $13 in July of 2016. From there, it would be raised $1 each following year until it reaches $15 in 2018. Lee’s insistence that area business leaders are on board with the three year phase in, some remain justifiably skeptical, calling the initiative an “agreement between the mayor and labor,” not at all “what the business community has been talking about.” Sound familiar?
Unlike the Seattle’s 60% wage increase, the San Francisco initiative would not include tip credit for any period of time or health care credit. In a city like San Francisco, which is largely dependent upon its hospitality and restaurant industry, this could be a death sentence for a main contributor to their local economy. Even more so when considering that much of the high-rent apartments and expensive homes are occupied by Silicon Valley commuters, and not people who actually work in the city.
At this point, it would be prudent to direct anyone voting on this ballot measure to Seattle chef Tom Douglas’ open letter on the tremendous ramifications that a $15/hour minimum wage would have on the restaurant industry. While the letter should have provided invaluable insight into what Seattleites could expect in the age of 15 NOW, it unfortunately did not resonate with the Seattle City Council and the Mayor’s Office. The takeaway messages from Douglas that all San Francisco voters would be wise to remember this November are that the unprecedented wage increases would increase costs for consumers, drive away businesses from the area and demonstrate the continued trend of the government disrespecting businesses and taxpayers alike.
Though nobody is exactly sure what will happen once $15 is the official wage base in Seattle, San Francisco can expect to join us in anticipating similar problems that have emerged as a result of Sea-Tac’s $15/hour minimum wage. So far, the experiment on taxpayers has resulted in businesses being unable to hire new employees, businesses laying off workers or reducing employee hours, employers cutting benefits (healthcare anyone?), a “living-wage surcharge” being applied to bills and area parking and, as Douglas foretold, the prices of goods and services going up in cost.
While San Franciscans will have the luxury of voting on self-destructing their economy, Seattlites—for what it is worth—did not. It is clearly too much to ask that the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray educate themselves on basic economics, but can we expect a more cautious approach from San Francisco area voters?
Let us know what you think. Do you believe San Francisco voters realize the looming consequences of Seattle’s economic experiment and reject their mayor’s plan for a $15 minimum wage?