US Supreme Court lets stand Seattle's $15 minimum wage

The nation's high court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from business groups that alleged the ordinance decision was unfair to franchises.

Ted S. Warren/AP/File
A sign that reads '15 Good Work Seattle' is displayed below Seattle City Hall after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 minimum wage measure. The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a challenge to the measure.

The Unites States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by business groups against a lower court's decision to uphold Seattle's $15 minimum wage.

The law passed by Seattle in April last year was the first of its kind, requiring businesses with more than 500 employees nationwide to lift the minimum wages of Seattle workers to $15 an hour by 2018 and smaller companies to do so by 2021.

The International Franchise Association's (IFA) 2014 lawsuit focused on Seattle law's treatment of local franchises as subsidiaries of brands like McDonald's or Burger King rather than independent businesses, meaning they had to comply by the earlier deadline.

A federal judge in Seattle and the San Francisco-based Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals earlier rejected claims that the ordinance was discriminatory.

Seattle officials and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which were supportive of the city in the case, said franchises are not the same as small businesses because franchising offers inherent advantages such as access to loans, brand recognition and bulk purchasing. However, the IFA countered that those benefits still cost them due to royalties, fees, and rent.

Under pressure from unions and workers right groups, Seattle paved the way for other West Coast cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the California and New York state legislatures who have followed in some form.

As divisions in Congress have made substantial worker rights reforms unlikely at the federal level, a number of cities and states have taken such efforts upon themselves. Earlier this year San Francisco became the first city to offer fully paid parental leave. New York State has mandated a partial paid leave scheme that fell in line with other states, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The IFA expressed disappointment with the court's decision, saying the lawsuit was an attempt "to level the playing field" for the 600 franchise businesses that employ 19,000 people in Seattle.

"Seattle's ordinance is blatantly discriminatory and affirmatively harms hard-working franchise small business owners every day since it has gone into effect," the group's president, Robert Cresanti, said in a statement.

The case is International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle, US Supreme Court, No. 15-958.

This report contains material from Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.