Seattle Businesses to Fight $15 an Hour Minimum Wage

A group of Seattle area businesses have gathered 20,000 signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would repeal the $15 an hour minimum wage bill recently passed by the city council.

Instead, the amendment proposes that the minimum wage eventually be raised to $12.50 by 2020, with an increase to $10.10 an hour in January 2015.

Forward Seattle, which represents restaurants, retailers and other businesses, launched the petition drive in order to save Seattle jobs and businesses from moving out of the city. But there have been complaints from activists that the paid signature gatherers misrepresented what the petition was about. They allege that petition signers were told that the referendum would be on approving a $15 minimum wage, not opposing it.

The signature-gathering effort has been clouded by allegations that paid signature gatherers have misrepresented what the referendum would do, telling some prospective signers that it would raise the minimum wage or that the city ordinance adopting the $15 minimum isn’t official yet.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg today forwarded complaints of fraudulent claims by Forward Seattle signature gatherers to the Seattle City Attorney’s office and the Seattle police for investigation. Satterberg said that the allegations constitute potential gross misdemeanors and so fall under the city’s jurisdiction, not the county’s.

Such is the gamble in using low-paid signature gatherers. Sometimes, they are paid by the signature; in other cases, by the hour. The workers are only as honest as the companies that employ them. We'll have to see how this works out.