Tacoma Minimum Wage Task Force To Be Formed

In a move that brought quite a bit of public comment at last night's Tacoma City Council meeting, the council voted to form a citizen task force to explore alternatives to the 15 Now initiative that would raise the minimum wage for businesses operating in Tacoma and making more than $300,000 a year to $15 an hour across the board.

Business owners and others are worried about the impact of that proposal on the health of Tacoma's businesses. The Chamber of Commerce wrote to the council requesting that a group of stakeholders be convened to find a "right-sized local solution for Tacoma to offer voters as an alternative." 

Tacoma business leaders are calling on Tacoma’s Mayor Marilyn Strickland to convene a citizen process to develop a compromise on the minimum wage issue. Such a process will result in an increase that respects the relative strength of the Tacoma economy.

The Chamber calls the 15 Now proposal too extreme, but suggests there may be room for compromise on a phased-in approach to a minimum wage that is a better fit for Tacoma's, which the letter points out does not have as robust an economy as Seattle, or as high of a cost of living. The letter suggests the group acknowledges the need for an increase, making the question not whether the minimum goes up, but by how much, and how the increase will be implemented.

Last night the council responded, adopting the resolution for the creation of the Tacoma Minimum Wage Task Force. The 13 members on the task force will be chosen by the council - one by each council member, and the remainder by the mayor. The task at hand for the group will be to develop a recommendation for the council on what they deem to be a fair compromise on the minimum wage question - both the amount of the increase and how to implement it. They have until June 30 to do that.

Public comment on the creation of the task force came largely from 15 Now activists, who asked the council not to seek an alternative for their initiative, which several described as already being a compromise. One commenter asked the council not to interfere with the proposal he described as "what the public wants." Another dismissed business concerns, telling the council to focus on wage earners, not employers.

We shouldn’t be concerned about failing businesses. We should be concerned about the interests of the citizens of Tacoma, and we all know that the interest of the citizens of Tacoma is to have a living wage… So let’s really consider the interests of the citizens of Tacoma, rather than the interests of some small group of people who are operating failing businesses in Tacoma.” 

We also heard from Tom Pierson of the Chamber, thanking the council, and from a couple of other voices in favor of compromise and further exploration, particularly of appropriate implementation. One commenter asked the council to be sure that small businesses and nonprofits in particular be represented, to ensure that their voices were heard. He mentioned the need to plan a year ahead, saying that it is particularly challenging for a nonprofit funded by grants to make abrupt changes.

You can read the 15 Now argument for their initiative on their website, and the Chamber's argument and letter to the council on their blog. It's clearly been a divisive issue so far, but the council seemed for the most part optimistic that a compromise was possible. Where do you see that right-sized solution for Tacoma?

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So the Mayor and Chamber of Cronyism are colluding to limit competition.  No one should find this one bit surprising.  This woman is as corrupt as politicians come and as for the Chamber of Cronyism they stand to benefit when young people are not allowed to choose to work for a “startup” for paltry wages with hope that their decision will pay off in the future as the company they work for gains market share. 

The Chamber’s interest in this is that it locks in the status quo and what that means is that potential competitors are frozen out by having to pay inflated wages.  What this will also accomplish is that new tech startup companies are not even going to consider Tacoma.

May 6, 2015 at 10:13 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I don’t know what Tech Startup is paying minimum wage. Just say’n.

May 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

10 | 1


There’s a hell of a lot you don’t know.

May 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

4 | 13


Ooooh… Burn!

May 7, 2015 at 9:59 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tech start ups do not pay minimum wages.  That is where the bulk of their start up money goes.  Salaries, not pennies per hour.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the Chamber is involved in putting the brakes on $15 an hour pay.  They have NEVER approved of the 40 hour work week, child labor laws or the Federal minimum wage.  The bulk of your Chamber dues goes to the giant Chamber of Commerce lobby in Washington DC and Olympia.  And what do they lobby against?  Anything to do with improving worker conditions or wages.  You can bet that if paid sick leave is a topic in 2016, they will be against it.  The Chamber tells everyone that they have over 9 million member businesses but that is grossly inflated.  The businesses they represent are large corporations, not mom and pop store fronts.  And they will not tell you who is a member.  Nor will they tell you how many corporations have walked away from them because of their Victorian attitude toward the workers that make things run.

The stakeholder thing is a stall.  You can bet that each Council member will nominate a small business operator that the Chamber doesn’t even attempt to represent, who will attest to being crushed by $15 an hour for their employees.  I can hardly wait to hear the bleats, moos and cackles that come from this hand picked panel.

May 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Believe it or not, the local Chamber cares a great deal for the workers here in Tacoma. It sounds like they are willing to sit down an talk about raising the minimum wage, without a public vote even. The 15now crew are fools if they don’t take them up on it. Get a better deal for low wage earners right now, or risk everything on a public vote? Take the money. I think most local election handicappers see this one losing big, (starting with me).

May 7, 2015 at 7:17 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Small businesses will find these increases difficult to pull off. When they raise prices and customers do not continue to support these businesses there will be plenty of companies looking to move out of Tacoma. Even in Seattle it has started.
SEATTLE — It may be one of the first casualties of Seattle’s new minimum wage law. The owner of Z Pizza says she’s being forced to close her doors, because she can’t afford the higher labor costs.

Devin Jeran was happy to get a raise, when Seattle’s minimum wage went up to $11 an hour at the beginning of the month.

“I definitely recognize that having more money is important,” he says, “especially in a city as expensive as this one.”

Unfortunately, he’ll only enjoy that bigger paycheck for a few more months. In August, his boss is shutting down Z Pizza and putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work.

“Fortunately she keeps us in the loop, she didn’t just tell us last minute.”

Ritu Shah Burnham doesn’t want to go out of business, but says she can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she says. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

May 6, 2015 at 4:37 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Bill Johnston

You need to follow up on this story.  This was the only small business owner they found who said this.  The other said they had no plans to close…hmmmm…a little corporate media “reporting” perhaps?

May 6, 2015 at 5:25 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Gods of the Copybook Headings will have the final say here.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

May 6, 2015 at 9:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Creating an island (Tacoma) that has almost a 60% higher minimum wage than surrounding neighborhoods will destroy Tacoma’s economy.  Any big increases have to be done regionally at the least.  As well, $15 is a bit too high and the way this proposal is written, it’s put in to affect too fast. 

I believe someone who is willing to work 40 hours a week is entitled to an income that provides three meals a day and a safe place to sleep at night—- in one of the most prosperous countries on the planet.  But to pick out a single town and undermine the entire economy with an ill-conceived proposal like this is nearly treason.

May 7, 2015 at 7:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 0

Altered Chords

There can only be 3 outcomes to a business.  Demand is strong enough to support higher prices - no impact to profitability.  Demand is not strong enough to support higher prices but profits are so large that ownership reduces margin and income.  Demand is not strong enough to support higher prices and profits are not large enough to support an ongoing business.  Of the 3 outcomes - the reduction in owner income is the one that the $15 now folks embrace and consider.  Businesses that go under cut all employee positions and businesses that raise prices erode the buying power of the min wage earner who just got a raise.

I think this initiative may make the proponents feel like they are doing wonderful things but that feeling will be short lived.

May 7, 2015 at 8:31 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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So, now Tacoma is a place where the minimum wage is $15 but no surrounding communities are $15 hour.  That means that the owner of the business that survives it can likely get more coveted employees from bordering communities looking for more than the state minimum wage - like recent college grads, people who were managers and want to make the same but with less responsibilities, etc., etc…  Do 15Now people think that they’re going to sustain a $15 an hour job if their skills are not up to snuff with the competition at this pay level?  No.  I wouldn’t hire ANY starting wage person at $15 an hour when I can get experience and/or education at the same rate.  These people will find themselves out of a job all together or working in a neighboring community.

May 7, 2015 at 9:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

7 | 1


This will do as much to stimulate the purchase of machines to replace over priced labor as the current federal Administration has done to stimulate the sale of firearms.  Unfortunately self identified masterminds rarely consider the laws of unintended consequences.  There are entire factories that have been mechanized and computerized and there are no low skilled or unskilled workers at all on the payrolls of these enterprises. 

The last things Tacoma needs is a Mayor who fancies herself an agent provocateur and other sundry economic morons and neo Luddites who fancy themselves to be George Mellor leading the charge against what they would have the public believe are today’s equivalent of 19th century textile mill owners.

May 7, 2015 at 10:02 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Video SparkNotes: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World summary


May 7, 2015 at 11:40 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Chamber and the Mayor are doing us all a favor here by getting ahead of the $15 Now folks.  A more modest, phased minimum wage increase than the $15 now proposal or Seattle’s can make sense for Tacoma—I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

May 7, 2015 at 8:41 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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If you are working in a position such as janitor, night shelf stocker etc. you should look at the Mayor and the Chamber of Cronyism as your worst enemy.  Your position will be eliminated and that work will be done by a contractor that is based outside of the City of Tacoma.  Chances are very good, given the current Administration in Washington DC, that the work you are currently doing will be done at that time by an illegal alien. 

Just saying. 

The Chamber of Cronyism is no one’s friend.  They exist to serve the interests of established businesses and preserve the status quo against competition from businesses who are not already established.

May 8, 2015 at 8:27 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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