Proponents of I-1433 in Seattle, an effort to increase the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020, held a press event on Saturday to show their solidarity and support for the initiative. Business owners from the area gathered before the press to laud the merits of a forced increased minimum wage. Then, things took a turn for the worse when the reality of such a measure was put on full display.
Felix Ngoussou is the owner of Lake Chad Cafe which is located in Seattle’s Central District. Although he had been listed in campaign documents as being supportive of the initiative, he actually inadvertently revealed the biggest problem with businesses being forced into an increased minimum wage.
It’s a job killer.
After one business owner contended that forcing all business into a $13.50 minimum wage is “a win-win,” Ngoussou had a message that completely went against that narrative. He said, “Higher minimum wage also comes with some labor burden.” His stark portrait of how a forced increase in wages have negatively affected his business and the lives of his employees was met with utter shock.
“At the end of the day, we resolved one problem, but we create more problems to come. I used to have four. I now have two.”
There’s the reality that those who want people flipping burgers to make $13.50, $15.00 or more an hour don’t want you to know. Such an increase can lead to and has led to decreased hours and layoffs from business owners who can’t afford that government hourly mandate.
Molly Moon Neitzel, one of the campaign sponsors, was described by King 5 as panicked as she tried to get the presser back on track, to no avail. Ngoussou continued,”The initiative itself is not bad. The problem is that the initiative isn’t complete. It’s supposed to be followed by an incentive to the employer.”
He added that as a business owner, the initiative created more problems so much so that he doesn’t think it would work statewide. Ngoussou contended, “It created more problems than resolved the problems we face as a business owner.”
When Ngoussou walked out, the cameras followed him and he spoke a reality that was even more damning.
“I support it because it’s an economic measure that helps get people out of poverty. Maybe you can apply it on Capitol Hill, Bellevue, Redmond…You can’t apply it in the Central Area, Sea-Tac, Tukwila…It’s a good initiative, but I think it’s incomplete.”
A press release was sent out after the press conference. This time, Ngoussou’s name was removed. His message that he supports I-1433 in theory but, in reality, it didn’t work for him and would not work statewide obviously didn’t go over too well.
It looks like the campaign sponsors did not like their rainbows and unicorns, positive rah-rah message interrupted with the truth from someone about how the measure has ruined his business.