When confronted with a $15 minimum wage becoming law, Seattle business owners said it would “sink the economy.” One owner, Jeremy Hardy, said he “wouldn’t be opening another business in (his) beloved Seattle.” One year later, he has opened two more, doubling the number he owns in “beloved Seattle.”
Hardy’s prediction, and subsequent reversal, is representative of Seattle business owners who reversed their dire predictions because the sky didn’t fall, and business is good. The gloomy prediction is the same argument from those opposing Proposition 1, the Worker Bill of Rights. While they claim to care about improving Spokane workers’ quality of life, they say Prop. 1’s effects would be devastating to Spokane businesses, forcing relocation and massive layoffs—in short, leaving a dry wind blowing through what’s left of the city.
The facts don’t support their conclusions. When workers are paid enough to meet basic expenses, which will happen under Prop. 1, they spend more, putting more money into the local economy. Tax revenue increases, and workers are less reliant on second jobs and public assistance, lowering costs for all.
In Spokane, according to The Spokesman-Review, when doing the same job, with equivalent experience and qualifications, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Prop. 1 would end that wage gap and ensure that no disparity exists based on race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. That makes good business sense—pay people equally for equal work. Simple, fair, and sensible.
Currently in 49 states, a worker who works for a private employer (not under a bargained contract), can be fired for no reason, and the law protects the employer. Prop. 1 would end that in Spokane, so that working people, who can’t afford to lose their job at the whim of the boss, would have some job security, knowing that if they show up and do their job, they can only be fired for a work-related reason. In the only state where such protection exists—Montana, since 1987—again, the sky hasn’t fallen. No decrease in economic growth or employment has occurred due to just cause for termination.
Finally, Prop. 1 says if workers’ rights conflict with those of corporate employers, the corporation’s rights are subordinate. Again, simple common sense. The rights of living, breathing human beings should take priority over artificial creations designed to maximize profit. The corporation won’t lose its right to defend itself; what would happen is a reordering of legal priorities, so the corporations wouldn’t be assured victory, as happens now, with regularity.
Prop. 1’s opponents claim with certainty what will happen if it passes. They offer no data, no evidence; they simply trot out fear and hyperbole, expecting voters to buy it. The only fiscal impact statement was prepared by the Yes campaign—read it at www.envisionworkerrights.org. The data shows this will be a gain, not just for Spokane’s workers, but for the community as a whole. That’s why you should vote yes on Prop. 1.
Brad Read, of Spokane, is campaign manager for Yes on Prop One. He isn’t related to Journal of Business publisher Paul Read.
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