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.