The Real Takeaway from the Franchise Association’s Minimum Wage Lawsuit? A Capitulation on $15.

In the immediate wake of the passage of Seattle’s highest in the nation $15 an hour minimum wage, the International Franchise Association announced plans to file suit against the ordinance on the grounds that it discriminates against franchise owners. From their press release:

“The Seattle City Council and Mayor Murray’s plan would force the 600 franchisees in Seattle, which own 1,700 franchise locations employing 19,000 workers, to adopt the full $15 minimum wage in 3 years, while most other small business owners would have seven years to adopt the $15 wage. … The City Council’s action today is unfair, discriminatory and a deliberate attempt to achieve a political agenda at the expense of small franchise business owners.”

Uh-huh. First of all, the minimum wage ordinance does discriminate against franchisees. And if franchisees were a protected class—like gays or women or minorities—they might have a legal point. But they’re not. So they don’t. Our laws pick winners and losers all the time, for example tax credits written specifically to benefit Boeing (though without ever mentioning Boeing by name). Indeed, if the council had passed an ordinance applying a $15 minimum wage only to franchises, that would have been legal too.

So they’re going to lose their lawsuit. But that’s besides the point.

No, the real news here is that the industry association that claims to represent the interests both franchisers and franchisees—powerful corporations like McDonalds, Subway, and Dominos—is fighting to have their workers phased in to $15 over seven years instead of three. That’s it: $16.49 by 2021 versus $15 by 2017. They’re not fighting $15 at all. They just want to be treated like everybody else.

Even the fast food industry is prepared to capitulate on $15. Lawmakers elsewhere should follow suit.


  1. 1

    Vlad spews:

    Why not 50 dollars an hour? I personally feel that getting peoples orders wrong on a consistent basis is worth at least 75 dollars an hour!

  2. 2

    czechsaaz spews:

    Just curious about clichés. I have young kids so the number of times I roll through fast food between one sportball and another sportball is higher than I’m really comfortable with.

    In the last calendar year I can count on one hand, one digit even, the number of times my order was wrong.

    But,heh, heh, heh, minimum wage workers are all lazy and stupid.

    Then again, I’m perfectly happy paying my taxes so the drive-thru worker can be on food stamps while the shareholders of McDonald’s are doing great. And should that drive-thru worker get hit by a car and end up in the emergency room, I’m so glad my insurance premiums are really high and when I had minor surgery my insurance paid 40% over market value to cover emergency room visits of people working for a corporation whose shareholders are doing great. AMURCA!

  3. 4

    Alex Blaze spews:

    Indeed, Vlad. I too am so unbelievably out of touch with reality that I cannot see the difference between making $15/hour and $75/hour. What? Poor people need to eat but buying a third car is a luxury? Whodathunkit?

  4. 5

    czechsaaz spews:


    I guess maybe if I ordered, “Can I get light mayo, extra mustard, exactly three pickle slices, no ice, sesame seedless bun, a side of ranch blended with ketchup and a single plum floating in perfume served in a man’s hat” from places that are designed to produce identical bland food time after time rather than a customized taste experience I might have more trouble.

  5. 6

    tensor spews:

    Best comment yet, anywhere, on Seattle’s new $15/hour minimum wage;

    “The world would be much better off if a whole bunch of fast food joints went out of business. Nearly-slave-wages labor to sell foolish people barely edible garbage shouldn’t be doing so well in any half-civilized country.”

  6. 7


    @1 Shapiro tried that line with me yesterday. It’s a straw man. Nobody’s demanding a $50 an hour minimum wage. We’re asking $15. Which is less than the minimum wage would have been had it tracked productivity growth since 1968 the same way the minimum wage did between 1938 and 1968.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 I think we should give everyone stock and forget about working. If you own stock, you don’t have to work.

  8. 9

    rob! spews:

    Any day now the franchisees who are members of the International Franchise Association will also begin discussing strategies to pressure parent companies (franchisors) to lower licensing and marketing fees as well as franchisors’ profits on any sole-source equipment and supplies, right? Because surely as smart independent businessmen they’re interested in controlling all costs and not just labor. Right?

    Or if such proposals get squelched, we and the franchisees will discover that the International Franchise Association is actually the International FRANCHISOR’S Association, in which the franchisees are permitted to participate only insofar as they are useful.

  9. 10

    you gotta be kidding spews:

    Uh-oh Goldy looks like you may have spiked the ball about capitulation to $15/hr a little too early. Forward Seattle just announced a ballot initiative overturning a $15 & proposing their own more modest increase with no different phase in schedules and equal treatment for all business. Combine with a lawsuit, and this is in just the first 3 days since the announcement. This is gonna get messy and it’s not over yet.

  10. 11


    @10 “Forward Seattle” is not the International Franchise Association. Hard to see the IFA getting behind an initiative to raise the minimum wage to $12.50—that won’t play well elsewhere.

    As to Forward Seattle—whoever they are—let’s see who gets behind it. Anybody can file an initiative. Getting it on the ballot and passing it are another thing.

  11. 12

    you gotta be kidding spews:

    You don’t think the Franchise Association would put $$ behind an initiative to overturn $15 for a lesser wage? An initiative that also gives their franchisee’s equal treatment as other businesses? I am thinking that they would both continue the lawsuit and donate to Forward Seattle, why wouldn’t they fight the battle on many fronts? Lord knows they have the $$ to.