by: Natasha Chen Updated:SEATTLE —
A new poll conducted last week shows voters are split on whether they support a $15 minimum wage for big business.
The poll, announced by the OneSeattle Coalition and conducted by DHM Research, asked 400 likely Seattle voters if they would support big businesses paying $15 an hour starting Jan. 1, with small businesses with 10 or fewer employees allowed to phase into that wage over three years’ time.
Of the respondents, 47 percent said yes, while 48 percent opposed.
More questions asked during the poll have not been released.
In a statement, Louise Chernin, the president and CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association said, “This city is in the middle of an important debate about wages and how to address income inequality. What these numbers show is that opinions are changing as more facts and analysis comes to light. We look forward to continuing the conversation and finding a way forward that works for Seattle.”
The OneSeattle Coalition is made up of small and large businesses, and they are considering the possibility of their own ballot initiative.
Kathrina Tugadi, a business owner with Forward Seattle, said the results are a good sign.
“It’s not the end game, but it makes us feel very positive about what we’re doing, education and outreach. Public opinions are changing as data and analysis is presented. That makes us feel good,” Tugadi said.
Tugadi co-owns Mr. Villa, a Mexican restaurant on Lake City Way. She said Forward Seattle represents other small businesses that would have to close or make serious cuts.
Forward Seattle does not fundraise and will not be filing any initiative.
Tugadi said the poll was likely in response to the charter amendment, filed last week by 15Now.
But Jesse Lessinger, a 15Now organizer, said the poll was not reflective of the actual proposal 15Now filed.
“I don’t think there’s been any drop in support for a $15 an hour minimum wage. This poll was conducted by big business, and big business is doing anything they can to undermine a real $15 an hour minimum wage,” Lessinger said.
He said 15Now filed a proposal defining ‘small business’ as an employer with fewer than 250 employees.
Lessinger said there would be much wider support if the poll question allowed for more businesses to be phased into the higher wage.