Well. Who could have seen this coming?!?
The Emerald City may witness the economic dangers of hiking the minimum wage to $15/hour sooner rather than later. SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, hiked the minimum wagefor certain service industry employees to $15 at the beginning of the year, and there are already signs that the sudden increase is having a negative impact.
At the Clarion Hotel off International Boulevard, a sit-down restaurant has been shuttered, though it might soon be replaced by a less-labor-intensive cafe…
Other businesses have adjusted in ways that run the gamut from putting more work in the hands of managers, to instituting a small “living-wage surcharge” for a daily parking space near the airport.
That’s not all. According to Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, some employees are feeling the pinch as employers cut benefits. She recalls a conversation she had with two hotel employees who have been affected by the wage hike:
“Are you happy with the $15 wage?” I asked the full-time cleaning lady.
“It sounds good, but it’s not good,” the woman said.
“Why?” I asked.
“I lost my 401k, health insurance, paid holiday, and vacation,” she responded. “No more free food,” she added.
The hotel used to feed her. Now, she has to bring her own food. Also, no overtime, she said. She used to work extra hours and received overtime pay.
What else? I asked.
“I have to pay for parking,” she said.
I then asked the part-time waitress, who was part of the catering staff.
“Yes, I’ve got $15 an hour, but all my tips are now much less,” she said. Before the new wage law was implemented, her hourly wage was $7. But her tips added to more than $15 an hour. Yes, she used to receive free food and parking. Now, she has to bring her own food and pay for parking.