Militant Journalism

Defending $15 at Capitol Hill Pride

Forward Seattle Booth at Capitol Hill Pride. Signs read: "Stop the Min. Wage Monster" and "Protect charities for forced wage increases!"
Forward Seattle Booth at Capitol Hill Pride. Signs read: “Stop the Min. Wage Monster” and “Protect charities from forced wage increases!”
Rebecca Dexter
Rebecca Dexter exposed the anti-$15 petitioners at Capitol Hill Pride.

In Seattle, on the day before the Pride Parade, merchants and community organizations in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood sponsor the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, a day-long street fair.

Alongside the Capitol Hill merchants, a wide range of organizations take part, traditionally either groups that serve or represent the LGBTQ community or progressive causes. This year, for the first time, Forward Seattle, a group of business owners seeking to overturn Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage ordinance, had a booth and was attempting to collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

Forward Seattle attempted to look “grassroots” with handwritten signs like “Stop the Minimum Wage Monster” and “Save your job—sign here!”  Liberation News asked the booth staffer “Who is sponsoring this petition campaign?”

The staffer disingenuously replied, “It’s just my father.” However, the booth map for Capitol Hill Pride clearly indicates that Forward Seattle had that booth space. And, Forward Seattle is headed up by a motley crew of retired executives, right-wing  conservatives and real estate developers, who hide behind a façade of sympathy for small businesses that fear the impact of paying a living wage on their profit margins.

Before long, the Forward Seattle booth had attracted its own circle of opposition. One volunteer for Yes Seattle, a group supporting the $15 minimum wage, explained why he was handing out “Voter alert-decline to sign” flyers to people as they passed the Forward Seattle booth. “We feel that the unanimous City Council has already decided that we will have $15 in Seattle and we would like to keep that $15 an hour minimum wage and obey the law. We would like people to NOT sign the petition.”

Rebecca Dexter was outraged by the Forward Seattle booth and began engaging in discussion with the petitioner and anyone who approached the booth. Liberation News asked her what she thought of the petition campaign. “They are really relying on people who are afraid of the lies of the companies, which have a lot of money, the lies they are telling. The companies are like, well this is going to raise our prices, we’re going to charge you more.”

Dexter clarified, “This might be true for a certain narrow band of companies,” but went on to add, “But for the bigger ones, the public ones that have investors, they are really looking out for their shareholders.  Those people could stand to get a whole lot less money, the overpaid presidents could stand to get less money and if a $15 minimum wage came out of that it would have virtually no impact on the consumer.”

Dexter continued to engage people who approached the booth, sharing facts about the $15 minimum wage, until the booth staffer called over a passing police officer and attempted to have the officer arrest her for “interfering in the collection of an election petition.” Dexter then joined up with the Yes Seattle leafletters , and continued educating people at Capitol Hill Pride.

While the $15 minimum wage law that was passed contains a number of loopholes, a significant sector of Seattle capitalists are determined to prevent any kind of increase. It is through determination and dedication, as demonstrated by people like Rebecca Dexter, that workers in Seattle can defend this gain.

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