The Same Business Owners Who Threatened Doom Over the $15 Minimum Wage Are Now Predicting Doom Over Secure Scheduling

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The conservative Washington Policy Center notes that—gird your loins, because here comes a shock—some local business owners are threatening doom if Seattle’s City Council passes a secure scheduling law

Now the president and COO of El Gaucho Hospitality, which operates the popular and high-end El Gaucho steak restaurants, has joined the fray.  In a letter that was recently emailed to 80,000 El Gaucho customers, a blog posted on the company’s website, and an interview published in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Chad Mackay says the proposed restrictive scheduling regulations are “absurd.”

The WPC post says “Mackay warns such micromanagement will harm the very workers the rules are supposed to protect.” Which is the sort of thing that employers always warn when any laws are proposed that might benefit workers. Business owners are always “concerned” that the laws will hurt those the very workers they’re supposed to help. Much in the same way that anti-seat-belt activists (and yes, those do exist) argue that seat belt laws hurt the very drivers they mean to help, or the way that American business owners used to argue that child labor was for the good of the child.

This isn’t the first time that Mackay has spoken up for the supposed “good” of his workers. Mackay warned Payscale.com that “Some will be hurt by” Seattle’s $15 minimum wage increase, and he argued that “What will never really be known is how many people didn’t get a job because it no longer exists or those that lost jobs or hours due to such a dramatic increase.” (Considering that Seattle is within the range of full employment, it’s hard to get nostalgic for all those imaginary underpaid jobs that might have hypothetically been lost.) Why, Mackay apparently cared so much about the workers who would be hurt by Seattle’s $15 minimum wage that he was a top donor for a failed effort to undo it.

So when we consider Mackay’s forecast for secure scheduling, we should also take his predictions about the minimum wage into account. His claims for the harm secure scheduling will do for his employees are eerily similar to his claims about the $15 minimum wage. Was he right about the minimum wage?

Uh, no. In fact, his business seems to be doing just fine. Shortly after the $15 minimum wage became law and just a few months after his anti-$15 referendum fell flat, Mackay bragged about his big plans for El Gaucho to the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Mackay wants to grow the existing business, and also has plans to add a couple of stories onto the existing El Gaucho Inn. He wants to expand the hotel and add a rooftop entertainment area with a retractable roof for corporate events, intimate weddings and more… He wants to add a store in Seattle where the select seafood and high-end meats he sources for his restaurants are available to the public to buy.

Doesn’t sound to me like a man who’s worried he’ll be able to afford to pay his employees. And in fact, just two weeks ago, El Gaucho posted an ad on the Reddit.com thread SeaJobs looking for employees, specifically a dishwasher who would be paid at $15-16 per hour and a sauté cook for $17-19 per hour. Oh, and those positions are for the El Gaucho in Bellevue, where the minimum wage is currently $9.47 per hour.

So from the outside, it sure looks like Mackay’s business is doing fine, despite his warnings that the minimum wage laws would hurt the very people they were meant to help. Now that he’s making the exact same threats over secure scheduling, are you really inclined to believe him? His record as a prognosticator is really quite poor. Maybe he should stick to steaks.

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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.