In July 2013, hotelier Scott Ostrander stood before the city council in SeaTac, Wash., pleading with the town not to adopt a $15 minimum wage.
“I am shaking here tonight because I am going to be forced to lay people off,” he said, according to an account in the Washington State Wire. “I’m going to take away their livelihood. That hurts. It really, really hurts. . . . And what I am going to have to do on Jan. 1 is to eliminate jobs, reduce hours — and as soon as hours are reduced, benefits are reduced.”
SeaTac, a community around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, went ahead with its plan, becoming, on Jan. 1, the first jurisdiction in the nation to set a $15 minimum wage, according to the labor movement. And Ostrander’s hotel, the Cedarbrook Lodge? It went ahead with a $16 million expansion that adds 63 rooms, a spa — and jobs.
Ostrander, then Cedarbrook’s general manager, told Seattle’s KIRO-TV as the new wage law took effect that it was proceeding with the expansion “to try to recoup significant expenses that will be incurred as a result” of the higher wage. So the minimum-wage hike forced the hotel to add rooms, revenues and workers. The horror!
As fast-food workers demonstrate nationwide for a $15 hourly wage, and congressional Republicans fight off a $10 federal minimum, little SeaTac has something to offer the debate. Its neighbor, Seattle, was the first big city to approve...