On March 19th, 15 Now attended a public hearing with the the Seattle City Council Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality. 15 Now had the opportunity to address the committee and powerfully state the case for raising the minimum wage without redefining the meaning of the word “wage”. As 15 Now and other groups explained, tip penalties and other “total compensation” policies represent a real loss for workers. That’s especially for true women and the gender pay gap, because women are over-represented in industries that will be most affected by tip penalties.
Puget Sound Sage provided testimony and statistics in support of a minimum wage increase. Leading the impact analysis of the Sea-Tac minimum wage hike, they provided evidence that there has been little to no negative impact on job creation in Sea-Tac so far. In fact, one of the most vocal critics of the Sea-Tac $15 initiative has already announced plans to expand. They also provided detailed statistics on the gender pay gap and how a higher minimum wage would help to balance that gap. In addition they examined the studies of minimum wage increases in other cities, which also show little negative employment impact. In most cities that have raised the minimum wage, the demographics of low-wage workers remained the same, debunking the claim that a higher wage will displace existing low-wage workers, including teenagers or “low-skilled” workers.
The National Employment Law Project provided wonderful testimony on wage theft and wage theft law enforcement. They provided surprising statistics on the extent of wage theft in low-wage industries and explained how total compensation policies would make wage theft laws even more difficult to enforce.