Thousands of fast food workers are planning to strike today for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The strikes will allegedly take place in almost 200 cities across the country, with the largest demonstrations planned for New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and San Diego – and with local protests being organized in Bellevue, Kent, and Aberdeen. These strikes coincide with a $15/hour trend that has been hitting major cities including San Francisco and Portland.
Unfortunately, these union-driven protests are about a slogan, not about improving the economy. Sadly, even the protestors probably have little awareness about the likely economic ramifications that this unsustainable hike in the minimum wage will bring to them and their jobs.
Communities in Washington State have already felt the crushing burden of the $15/hour minimum wage and experienced firsthand the empty promises of the movement, case in point being the economic experiment being conducted on SeaTac. Workers have experienced a decline in workplace quality and employee services, shortened hours, and a decrease in wages earned from tips.
Many of the businesses who will be targeted by strikes this week are actually franchise businesses, meaning that their owners are local members of the community. As SHIFT has previously reported, the $15/hour minimum wage unfairly targets independently owned and operated franchise businesses. The current minimum wage law passed in Seattle directly targets these businesses, as they are only given much less time to raise their employees’ wages versus other non-franchise small businesses that have up to 7 years to adjust to the new ordinance.
Fast food and franchise operations are not the only businesses at risk with a $15/hour minimum wage on the table. Tom Douglas—the Seattle celebrity chef and restaurateur—has been a vocal opponent of the unprecedented wage hike. Douglas has even gone so far as to call the steep minimum wage increase “the most serious threat” to business.
While it may be too late for the Seattle City Council to take these economic red flags seriously, hopefully the communities that will be affected by these strikes think twice before waging war on their own small business owners.