It could use a thorough fisking, but it’s a beautiful sunny Saturday, so I don’t want to waste more than a few precious moments calling bullshit on the Seattle Times‘ latest bullshit editorial: “Redefine franchises under Seattle’s minimum-wage proposal.”
The politics of this decision is clear. Seattle is the first city to move swiftly toward a $15 minimum wage, but not the last. National labor activists will export the model created here. Treating franchises as what they are — small businesses — would eliminate the opportunity to burn [McDonald’s CEO Don] Thompson in rhetorical effigy elsewhere.
Well, the editors are half right. The goal always has been to export the model created here to the rest of the nation, so labor negotiators have been careful to avoid creating any anti-worker precedents. But the provision determining the size of a business based on the total number of FTEs of the national chain rather than that of the individual franchise or retail store has nothing to do with burning the McDonald’s CEO in effigy. It’s all about protecting the interests of the fast food workers whose courageous walkouts first sparked the $15 minimum wage movement.
Under the currently proposed ordinance, all fast food workers would be phased in to $15 by 2018. Count franchises as separate small businesses—as the Seattle Times proposes—and no fast food worker would be fully phased in until 2025. That’s bullshit.
While it is true that local franchisees operate as individual businesses, it is totally misleading to downplay their close connection to the national chains. Giant, multinational corporations like McDonald’s and Subway have defined the low-wage business model on which their franchisees operate. Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law puts pressure on local franchisees to put pressure on corporate headquarters to readjust that model so as to accommodate paying a living wage.
Do you really think that these national chains are going to abandon Seattle? Of course not. They will be forced to find a way to help their franchises here thrive, despite paying higher wages.
And that is a model that we sure as hell want to export to the rest of the nation.