Saturday, December 14, 2019

SEATTLE: "The legal minimum is going to $16.39 an hour, while my pay drops to zero."

Simone Barron writes from Seattle for The Wall Street Journal:

This city’s minimum wage is rising to $16.39 an hour on Jan. 1. Instead of receiving a bigger paycheck, I’m left without any pay at all due to the policy change. That’s because the restaurant where I’ve worked for six years is closing as a consequence of the city’s harmful minimum-wage experiment.

I work for Tom Douglas, one of the best-known restaurateurs in Seattle. Mr. Douglas is in many ways responsible for the city’s reputation as a foodie paradise, and he recently celebrated his 30th anniversary in business. He’s a great boss, and his employees tend to stay at the company for a long time.

But being an established chef and a good employer doesn’t save you from the burden of a sharp minimum-wage increase, up 73% from $9.47 in 2015. For large-scale employers like Mr. Douglas, there’s no separate rate for workers who earn tips. In Washington and a handful of other states, tips aren’t counted as income earned on the job. That means restaurateurs are expected to pay servers like me the full minimum wage in addition to our considerable tip income.

When rent is too high, labor costs too much, and customers don’t want to pay $40 for a roast-chicken entree, the only way for many operators to ease the pain is to close.

So now, after six years working at Mr. Douglas’s restaurant Tanakasan, I need to find a new work home. My first thought was to go back to Sitka & Spruce, a restaurant where I had once worked. (I previously had to take on a second job there after the rising minimum wage forced Tanakasan to adopt a no-tipping payment model, drastically reducing my income.)

As it turns out, I can’t return to Sitka & Spruce. Its James Beard Award-winning owner, Matt Dillon, is closing Sitka after 14 years, defeated by the one-two punch of rising rents and labor costs...

I’ve lived in this city for almost 20 years, supporting my family thanks to the full-service-restaurant industry. Today I’m struggling because of a policy meant to help me. I’m proudly progressive in my politics, but my experience shows that progressives should reconsider minimum-wage laws that hurt the very workers they’re trying to protect.



  1. No, it's not capitalism that is rapacious and heartless---it's government policies. But naturally, capitalism and the supposed free-market that we have, get all the blame.

  2. "proudly progressive". Slow learner, eh?

  3. "I’m proudly progressive in my politics..."

  4. I love how he will only oppose those progressive policies that hurt him financially. Why should he be upset by the behavior of the one percent if his only philosophical basis in politics is his self interest?

    1. Don’t all of our political beliefs revolve around what we think is in our own self interest?

  5. "my experience shows that progressives should reconsider minimum-wage laws that hurt the very workers they’re trying to protect".

    Let me fix this for you sir: "my experience, as well as APODICTICALLY TRUE ECONOMIC THEORY, shows that progressives should reconsider minimum-wage laws BECAUSE they ALWAYS hurt the very workers they’re SUPPOSEDLY trying to protect".

    Your are welcome.