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Battle over Seattle’s $15 minimum wage turns to boycotts

Mr. Villa Mexican Restaurant in northeast Seattle is among 22 businesses targeted for boycott by the group behind Seattle's $15 minimum wage. (Rathbone Images photo)

Backers of a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle have launched a boycott of businesses who oppose it in a move KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson is fighting to counter with his own “buy-cott.”

Working Washington has posted a list of 22 businesses around the city the organization says have actively funded efforts to repeal the $15 minimum wage law passed by the Seattle City Council and signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray.

The 22 are among those backing the group “Forward Seattle” pushing a referendum to put the minimum wage to a vote of Seattle voters.

Katrina Tugadi owns Mr. Villa Mexican Restaurant on Lake City Way in North Seattle. In an interview with Dori, she says she helped found “Forward Seattle” because the minimum wage increase will have a drastic impact on her small business and many others, and the views of small business, nonprofits and others have been completely ignored.

“The whole process was terribly rushed, not well thought out, not based on facts. And our voice was completely overshadowed by the threat of a charter amendment by the $15 Now folks, which turns out never had an option of being on the ballot this year,” she says.

Sage Wilson with Working Washington says a “fringe group of right-wing conservatives, real estate developers, and corporate executives is funding “Forward Seattle”, using misleading tactics to try and repeal our landmark minimum wage law.”

Wilson says while everyone has a right to their opinions, the businesses like Mr. Villa’s that have aligned themselves with “Forward Seattle” are “going after the livelihoods of 100,000 poverty-wage workers.”

But Tugadi says she’s flabbergasted and irate that she’s now being targeted simply for trying to stand up for her livelihood.

“We have every right to exercise our democratic options here for a referendum, and to educate the public on what the negative consequences are of this measure,” she says. “If they’re afraid of information and facts, then people should be asking why.”

Dori agrees, calling the City Council and Mayor Murray “tyrants” for pushing the minimum wage increase through despite the impact on small businesses. He says leaders of the $15 minimum wage campaign are “bullies” for targeting businesses fighting for their livelihoods.

“This is the kind of tyranny that we’re seeing from the left in Seattle where if you have a dissenting viewpoint, you not only should be disagreed with but you must be silenced. I mean those are the kind of punks we’re dealing with here.”

In response, Dori has launched what he’s calling a “buy-cott,” urging people to patronize Mr. Villa’s and the other businesses on the list in a show of solidarity for their right to stand up for themselves.

Forward Seattle has until the end of June to gather enough signatures to qualify the referendum for the November ballot. Rather than the $15 minimum wage passed by the city, the group is proposing a $18 minimum wage phased-in over 10 years.

“If we’re all going to have to live with the results of this law, we should all vote on it,” Tugadi says. “And that’s simply what we are saying here.”

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