Thursday, June 5, 2014

Asian Community Letter Explains the Damage Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage Law Will Cause

Seattle's The Ethnic Community Coalition has released the following:

Although Seattle’s proposed $15/hour minimum wage increase has been publicly debated since last fall, we local ethnic and immigrant small business owners have just begun to realize the negative impact the wage hike will have on our businesses and on our employees. For months, we tried to ignore it. In the meantime, groups like $15 Now and the labor unions spoke on behalf of our traditionally quiet and underrepresented communities.

These groups argue Seattle’s proposed 61 percent minimum wage increase will bring large-scale economic benefits to over 100,000 low-wage workers, many of whom are women and minorities. On the surface, the wage increase will put more money into our pockets.

But the proposed hike also will have many unintended consequences for our small businesses.

First, we would need to reduce our work force and hire only highly skilled employees. Over 10 percent of low-wage workers in Seattle do not speak English well. Right now, we hire many recent immigrants who would not likely be able to find other work in such a competitive market. At $15/hour, we would have to reduce our staff and only hire skilled, experienced workers who speak English fluently.

Second, we would upgrade our technology and use machines to do some work formerly done by hand. For example, the people you see packing produce at Lam’s Seafood in Little Saigon would be replaced by automation.

Third, we would halt plans to expand our businesses in Seattle. Ethnic communities have been moving outside Seattle for years because of the city’s rising prices. This proposal would accelerate the migration of minorities from Seattle to the surrounding areas, a trend shown in the 2010 Census.

Fourth, we would have to raise prices on an already price-sensitive community. Tam Nguyen of Tamarind Tree estimated he would pay $45,500 each month in additional wages and taxes. “Even with a 30 percent price increase, how can I afford that?” said Nguyen. Washington Restaurant Association’s survey of 400 restaurant owners showed the wage hike would mean 82 percent of restaurants would raise prices, 69 percent would lay off some staff, and 45 percent would close business, declare bankruptcy, or close a location.

Ethnic restaurant owners and shopkeepers, such as Tamarind Tree and Lam’s Seafood, will be disproportionately impacted. The University of Washington research commissioned by the city’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee reported most jobs that pay less than $15/hour are in the accommodation and food industry (63 percent) and in retail trade (48 percent). According to the 2007 U.S. Census survey of business owners, Asians and Asian Americans own a 24 percent share of the accommodation and food industry market in Seattle and 19 percent of retail trade. This is relatively high, considering Asians comprise less than 14 percent of the city’s population.

Since wage compression will likely result, it is still unclear to what degree the income gap between minorities and whites will close. Moreover, the extra income will not necessarily stay in Seattle to stimulate its economy — 40 percent of low-wage workers in Seattle live outside the city.

With all these reasons, why did we ethnic small business owners wait until now to rally against this proposed wage hike?

Because we were afraid to talk openly with each other and with our employees — it’s not in our culture to make waves.

We feared we would be accused of not wanting to improve the lives of our workers. We feared being bullied and boycotted.

Our fear clouded our ability to use the greatest weapon this country can give us: our voice.
Now, we’ve come together to say “no” to the proposed $15/hour minimum wage that would become effective next January. We need to determine a sustainable approach to economic growth that will be a win-win for both employees and employers, and that will respect the diversity of our city.

Zane Fitch, Day Spring & Fitch Funeral Home
Taylor Hoang, Pho Cyclo Cafe
Yen Lam, Lam’s Seafood
David Leong, Acquabar
Lawrence Pang, Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber
Julie Pham, Northwest Vietnamese News
Angela Shen, Savour Seattle Tours
Susanna Tran, Tony’s Bakery & West Coast Commercial

(via NorthwestAsianWeekly  htAdamMunter)


  1. Wow - They nailed it.

  2. Beautiful. They only way statists will learn is by pain. Go Galt!!!

  3. "We need to determine a sustainable approach to economic growth that will be a win-win for both employees and employers, and that will respect the diversity of our city."

    Read Rothbard and Mises. There's your answer. Now start reading.

  4. They don't sound Asian to me. Austrian more like it.

    1. I see what you did there...

    2. Why aren't there more Asian libertarians I wonder. Maybe because they're 'traditionally quiet' and complacent as stated in the letter. So they kind of just fall behind the leaders. Hopefully we can wake them up out of their slumber and make them realize that it's in their interest to be libertarians. Asians are a generally highly intelligent high achieving group after all and now there are more Asian immigrants every year than Latinos believe it or not.

  5. Because we were afraid to talk openly with each other and with our employees — it’s not in our culture to make waves.

    We feared we would be accused of not wanting to improve the lives of our workers. We feared being bullied and boycotted."


    Employees of Chinese buffet were victims of human trafficking

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police say they arrested a Chinese restaurant owner whose employees were victims of human trafficking.

    Wednesday night, police arrested Golden Palace Buffet owner Ming Chen after executing a search warrant on the Outer Loop restaurant and a home on Churchdown Lane.

    Police say the owners of the restaurant were illegally using men and women as workers to staff the establishment.

    According to the arrest report, the victims were working 12-hour shifts, six days a week with "little or no breaks, and limited freedoms."

    "Yeah, that's real shocking to me," said Gloria West, who is a regular customer at the Golden Palace Buffet on the Outer Loop.

    "We come about once every two or three months with my father in-law," West said.

    "I've never seen anybody in there that didn't act like they didn't want to be there."

    But LMPD Sgt. Andre Bottoms says a year-long investigation showed some employees were not properly compensated.

    "We found in our investigation that some of the females that were working as waitresses were working for tips only and most of the time they didn't get to keep their tips," Sgt. Bottoms said.

    "Some of the victims didn't even know what city they were in," he added.

    The owners of the restaurant were allegedly keeping the employees in the basement of the Churchdown Lane residence and taking them to and from the restaurant in a van with wooden benches.

    1. This is a consequence of immigration law, worker identification laws, and minimum wage, not some kind of natural propensity of the free market.

      If the workers weren't scared of being kidnapped by immigration agents and prevented from working based in lacking government documents, they could have just walked off the job and gotten a better one somewhere else.

    2. Are you accusing the Seattle Ethnic Community of Human Trafficking? I am sure you have some sort of proof of this?

    3. I'm sure you're correct in how that article relates to this story because Louisville and Seattle overlap boundaries.

    4. Racist much?

    5. Well if one asian did it, they must all be guilty of it.....racist

  6. The bigger problem is the Seattle City Council does not care about the struggles of small businesses in Seattle. I suggest in the future all businesses need to pay attention to the negative business attitude the council members take. They are in the back pocket of labor unions.

  7. A lot of these immigrant business's love to import low cost help with benefits provided by the taxpayer through food stamps, health care cards & rent assistance.
    They are crony capitalist in nature and I do not feel sorry for them.
    Time to cut the immigration rates ! is making a big push for a hike here in Mass.
    I wonder besides the unions who is funding them ?

    1. It sounds like "benefits provided by the taxpayer " are an attractive nuisance.

      The existence management of these programs are also cronyism btw. JP Morgan made $500 million in profits running the SNAP and EBT card programs, so far.

      If you really want to end cronyism, end these programs which enable it. A program that doesn't exist can't be abused.

  8. From the Slog.
    Early this morning, local business coalition Forward Seattle, which has been promising for a long time that they'd file their own simpler, more business-friendly minimum-wage ballot measure, officially announced their intention to do so.
    The basic outline of their plan, which they call in a statement a "straight-forward, no exceptions approach," starts at $10.10 in 2015, then rises 40 cents a year until it hits $12.50 in 2020. They've filed their campaign with the City of Seattle, though we haven't seen their ballot language yet. Just like 15 Now, they say their measure will be an amendment to the city charter, a measure that's trickier to undo than a simple initiative. Forward Seattle says the businesses they represent have "actively participated, but have been underrepresented in the minimum wage debate."
    That's not the only challenge Seattle's just days-old $15 minimum wage law is facing. PubliCola reports this morning that Tim Eyman filed an initiative yesterday to give the state sole power to institute minimum wage, superseding any local measures; the goal appears to be to get it on the 2015 ballot.

  9. Well clearly these individuals are racists and hate the working class poor and minorities /sarcasm.

    Very good letter, and very true about facing retribution for espousing a pro-market view when it comes to determining wages.

  10. So many celebrate our post-industrial economy/service economy. I think it was Ayn Rand who said we should kneel down and worship those smokestacks.

  11. We libertarians could learn a hell of a lot from this response. This letter throws Lefty jargon right into the Lefties' faces. Using words like "ethnic" and "bully" and "sustainable" (god, how I hate that word.)

    1. Anon, I thought "sustainable" means "makes a profit"... doesn't it?

  12. I'm waiting for the Seattle City Council to begin talking about taking ownership of the means of production as the next great step toward social justice.

    1. Socialist Alternative, Kshama Sawant's party, proudly espouses that very sort of despotism at its web site. Furthermore, "Socialist Alternative is in political solidarity with the Committee for a Workers' International, a worldwide socialist organization in 44 countries and on every continent." (From Wikipedia)

  13. I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing everything is "racist". Go ahead, follow your shitty agenda and see how much lower we all sink. The two parties are a joke and anyone who buys into them is an idiot.
    On a separate note, I grieve for the Asian people and their programming. This is the reason TPTB are getting away with poisoning all life on Earth thru Fukushima, starting with Japan.

  14. If this is true, immigration might dropped from Asian and Latin American Countries. So a higher minimum means hiring more native born.