Supporter of minimum wage initiative also echoes opponents' arguments

SEATTLE — There was surprise twist today at a news conference called to support the initiative for a statewide higher minimum wage.

One of the small-business owners invited to speak in favor of the initiative also echoed the arguments of those who oppose the initiative.

The news conference was held at the Molly Moon’s Ice Cream shop on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, where the smell of fresh waffle cones permeated the air.

The owner said she's prospered since Seattle started gradually raising the minimum wage to eventually reach $15 an hour.

“Molly Moon's has seen increased sales and increased profitability and my employees are so thankful for the paid safe and sick leave,” said owner Molly Moon.

Paid sick leave is also part of statewide Initiative 1433, which would gradually raise the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 an hour over the next four years, if it passes.

The owner of the Lake Chad Cafe in the Central District was also at the news conference to support raising the minimum wage.

“I think that is a good initiative to support.”

But Felix Ngoussou also told the group he had to lay off two employees after Seattle's minimum wage started climbing, because of higher taxes and fees.

We asked him about it later.

“I am not against the initiative,” Ngoussou said. “I say the initiative is always a good initiative but it is just incomplete. It has to be followed by some incentive to the microbusiness owner.”

Ngoussou says businesses like his need a break on taxes and fees.  And he echoed critics who decry a one-size-fits-all minimum wage.

“You can apply it in Capitol Hill, Bellevue, Redmond, everywhere, but you cannot apply it in poor neighborhoods, like Tukwila, SeaTac,” he said.

To clarify, SeaTac already has a $15 hourly minimum wage, but only for larger, travel-oriented businesses.

Molly Moon sees a benefit for all in I-1433.

“I think that raising wages is only going to strengthen the Washington statewide economy," she said.

Supporters of I-1433 believe the initiative will inject $2.5 billion into the state’s economy as low-income workers spend the extra money.

Endorsers include the Greater Seattle Business Association, one of the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business groups in the country.