Small businesses may be hurt by minimum wage phase-in

by: Essex Porter Updated:


SEATTLE - On Monday, the public gets its first chance to speak out on the plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Seattle.

But we are already hearing from small businesses that the longer phase-in they’ve been given to reach a higher minimum wage just doesn't help them. 

There wouldn’t be much difference in the minimum wage next year, $11 for big businesses, $10 for small businesses. 

But by 2017, big businesses would pay a minimum of $15 an hour, while small businesses would be paying $11. 

For the owner of Fremont’s Flying Apron Bakery, that’s not a break, it’s a problem. 

“I don't think it's going to help at all,” said. Angela Cough. 

She says when big businesses have to pay $15, small businesses will also have to pay at least $15 to compete for workers.

 “It may look good on paper to say that you're giving somebody extra time, but in reality I think the market is going to adjust and we will end up being accountable in practice to the same rate that larger companies are paying,” Cough said. 

The owner of Mr. Villa’s Mexican Restaurant in Lake City says the same economic will apply there. 

“If someone out there pay’s $13 to $14 an hour in the next year, we're going to end up paying those rates anyhow,” said Katrina Tugadi. 

Tugadi is already planning on cutbacks that could come as early as this summer. 

“We're going to look at cutting out lunch, closing down operation on certain days, we'll look at cutting staff,” said Tugadi. 

Tugadi and Cough are part of Forward Seattle, a grass-roots organization representing small independent businesses that is planning to file its own initiative to raise the minimum wage for all workers to $12.50 an hour in five years, with no exceptions.