Anti-$15 Minimum Wage Advocate Accidentally Makes the Perfect Case for a $15 Minimum Wage

Anyone else hungry for some pizza?

Anyone else hungry for some pizza?

Two pieces of news relating to the $15 minimum wage in Seattle that we couldn’t let pass without comment:

1. Ritu Shah-Burnham, the Z Pizza franchise owner who previously told news sources that Seattle’s minimum wage was forcing her to close and that she was “terrified” for her employees who were about to enter the labor market, now claims “she has never said she’s against the minimum-wage increase,” according to KIRO 7. Shah-Burnham tells KIRO that she’s against the part of the law that raises the minimum wage faster for franchisees. KIRO investigates:

The director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, Brian Surratt, said the designations for ‘large’ and ‘small’ businesses were not taken lightly.

Surratt said franchises are different, in that they are part of a network, with built-in economies of scale and support with advertising, supply-chain management and menus.

To that idea, Shah-Burnham said she paid for all those services, thereby making them less of an advantage than a cost.

To me, that sounds like Shah-Burnham chose the wrong franchise opportunity. I wish her luck with whatever she decides to do next.

2. As Working Washington pointed out, local bar owner and loud anti-$15 advocate Andrew Friedman got into a Capitol Hill Seattle comment thread and accidentally made a case for the $15 minimum wage’s success. Friedman wrote about Wisconsin pizza chain Ian’s moving into the old Z Pizza spot:

Ian’s Pizza is a national chain. THIS is a perfect example of our future. Our local businesses close, to be replaced by a national, or larger company.

Do you guys not quite understand what has happened here? Zeek’s Pizza is a local chain. They have been replaced by a national chain. The money will flow OUT of the state.

THIS is our future. THIS is a great example of what we will see more and more and more, as local people are forced out/fail, and will be replaced by larger/national businesses that have lower costs of doing business, and thus – can afford to pay the higher wages.

The problem is, Friedman mistook Z Pizza, which has dozens of locations in 15 states, for local chain Zeek’s Pizza. Z Pizza closed. Zeek’s is not closing. And Ian’s Pizza is far from a national conglomerate—it only has five locations nationwide. A commenter named Zac politely tried to point this out to Friedman, and Friedman doubled-down on his mistake:

Zac, where is Zeek’s based?

Headquarters
419 Denny Way
Seattle, WA 98109

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds pretty local to me, ‘eh?

Well, it turns out that Friedman was wrong, so commenter Fat-tailed corrected him in glorious fashion:

You’re wrong. zPizza is not the same as Zeek’s Pizza. You can tell because they have different names.

Daaaaaaamn. That’s a sick burn, Fat-tailed. But why are we bringing this up? People are wrong in comment threads all the time, after all.

The point is that Friedman, who has been against the $15 minimum wage from the very beginning, accidentally made a perfect case for the $15 minimum wage, in reverse. A franchisee couldn’t pay their employees a living wage, and so that business is being replaced by a smaller business that can. As Friedman wrote: “THIS is our future. THIS is a great example of what we will see more and more and more.” Frankly, we can’t wait to see more of it, because we’re big supporters of small businesses that pay their employees a living wage, and proudly offer health insurance too. Working Washington put the best capper on the story:

As Friedman is so fond of saying, THIS is our future, and we’re excited to live in it.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.