Seattle franchise owners file federal suit over city's $15 minimum wage

Mayor Ed Murray to franchise owners: Your issue is with the brands you sell for, not the people of Seattle.
By Matt Bradwell  |  June 11, 2014 at 7:14 PM
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SEATTLE, June 11 (UPI) -- A group of Washington-area franchise owners have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Seattle, attempting to block its new minimum wage law from lumping individually-owned franchises in with their parent corporations.

"As a result, until as late as 2025, the Ordinance will impose significantly higher labor costs on small franchisees than on their non-franchised competitors," the suit asserts. "During that period, small franchisees are placed at an unfair competitive disadvantage."

The suit alleges franchises owned by individuals should not be counted as large corporations, even if they are vending for one. The mayor's office will fight the federal suit on the grounds that the franchises are responsible for providing for their owners and should adjust to the law of the land.

"They are not the same as a new restaurant that opens up in the city. So I think they're different," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement.

"They have a food supply and products that are provided by a corporate national entity, training provided by a corporate national entity, advertising provided by a corporate national entity. They are not the same as a local sandwich shop."

Murray went on to encourage franchise owners to take up the fight with the corporations whose brands they represent, specifically calling out the money spent on corporate interest that could be used to invest in the financial well-being of current employees.

"I don't think the strain is on a fairly slow phase in on the minimum wage, but on a business model that really does, in many cases, harm some of those franchise owners," Murray said.

"I don't doubt at all that they are working under some pretty tight conditions, but I think it's a conversation to have with some of the people who have decided to spend oodles of money on lawyers."

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