If there’s anything the Seattle Times editorial board hates more than the $15 minimum wage, it’s unions!
It is easy to substitute McDonald’s corporate face for the word “franchise” and feel no pang of sympathy. But in reality, franchise owners are often small, family-owned businesses, which get the use of a copyright, advertising, training and group buying discounts. In exchange, franchises typically pay between 4 and 7 percent of gross profits.
Unions dislike this business model and the low wages usually paid by quick-serve retailers, and have worked with some success to unionize fast-food workers. In the political pressure cooker of the $15 Now movement last year, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council sided with the unions, and against the small-business owners who are franchisees.
… In siding with the union pressure, Seattle sided against not only fast food chains, but also against pet groomers, barbers, businesses providing in-home care to elders and people with disabilities, and others.
Yup, that’s the Seattle Times’ narrative, and they’re sticking to it: this is a struggle for survival by small, locally-owned businesses (like McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway) against the dastardly political machinations of the IBFFWS (the International Brotherhood of Fast Food Workers or Something), the all-powerful—yet curiously nonexistent—fast food workers union!
What a load of crap.
To be clear, there is no fast food workers union, and while there was certainly a successful effort to organize fast food workers, there was no real attempt to actually unionize them—a virtually impossible task given our weak labor laws and the franchised structure of the fast food industry. So no, the mayor and the council most certainly did not “side with the unions.” They sided with the fast food workers who risked their jobs by walking out in demand of a $15 minimum wage.
The Seattle Times’ effort to spin this into a clash between small business and BIG LABOR is simply bullshit. The story of declining wages in America is the story of the declining bargaining power of labor, and fast food franchise workers are the most disenfranchised workers of all. “We beat them on the federal level, and we beat them on the state level,” International Franchise Association lobbyist Dean Heyl recently bragged at a meeting called by the Koch-backed ALEC to strategize opposition to local minimum wage hikes like Seattle’s. And that’s what this lawsuit is really about: a Koch/ALEC/IFA plot to keep fast food workers as powerless as possible.
Shame on the Seattle Times.