Boycott called against businesses opposing $15 minimum wage

SEATTLE -- Merchants who actively oppose the city's $15-an-hour minimum wage faced a counter-move when a workers' rights group called for a boycott of those businesses.

Many businesses have expressed doubts about taking on this history-making wage, but the boycott goes after 22 specific shops and stores. They fell in the cross-hairs because they went public with their opposition, or contributed to a campaign to put the issue before voters.

"They're bullying us. They want to quiet our voices, muffle our voices, stop the democratic process, and we're just not going to let them do it," said Kathrina Tugadi, owner of Mr. Villa Mexican Restaurant in Lake City, one of the businesses named in the boycott.

Tugadi is also part of the Forward Seattle movement, a group trying to undo Seattle's recently passed $15 an hour minimum wage ordinance. Instead, Forward Seattle favors a $12.50 an hour wage floor, phased-in over five years. The ordinance passed by the city council would phase-in the raise over three to seven years, depending on the size of business.

"We didn't get a choice, we didn't get an option," Tugadi said, referring to the city council's vote. "We want to make our own voices heard."

However, Sage Wilson with Working Washington hopes people will take action once they understand what Forward Seattle is proposing, and honor the boycott.

"People do vote with their dollars," he said.

Many of the businesses targeted by Wilson's group are bars and restaurants. Some have contributed money toward a signature drive to get Forward Seattle's referendum before the voters.

"These businesses did not just have an opinion," Wilson said. "They are giving their resources, their reputations, and their names on the side of these right-wing, conservative interests."

Forward Seattle has until the end of June to qualify its referendum for the November ballot.