In Tacoma, Mayor Marilyn Strickland is trying to get ahead of the call for a $15 minimum wage.
The mayor agreed to work toward a ballot measure that would provide a gradual increase to a higher minimum wage and created a task force to help find the right solution.
“Do you see this mayor working with the Chamber actually doing a good thing by circumventing a popular vote? Or do you think here’s another mayor and Chamber caving to pressure?” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney asked John Curley.
“She’s being held hostage, Tom,” Curley responded.
This comes down to the old idea of figuring out which digit — on your hand — you want to give up, Curley told Tom.
“[The mayor] is going to say you can have the pinky up to the second knuckle,” Curley said. In other words, “I’ll give you $12 an hour, as opposed to taking the whole hand.”
Problems are created any time there is a third party involved in determining the value of someone’s job, Curley added. Whenever people try to make a law fair and equitable, problems arise. What’s fair to one person is not fair to another.
“It makes you rich people nervous,” Tom said to Curley.
Tacoma’s wage discussion being led by the Chamber of Commerce makes it a unique situation. It shows that democracy works, Tom said, because the city is afraid people would vote for a higher minimum wages than it can afford.
“To me, it’s shocking that if you ask people — even on the Republican side — they say they are in favor of minimum wage,” Curley said. “How brainwashed does somebody have to be that you want a third party determining the value of a job between an employee and an employer?”
Yet now Tacoma is set to join Seattle in the push for increasing wages.
“Be happy you’re only losing your thumb,” Tom told Curley. “We might vote to take your whole hand, John.”