When I have to pay for it! Then we have to pay attention to what it costs;
Bill Hobson says the $15-an-hour wage movement is the most electrifying change in thinking he’s witnessed on an issue in more than 30 years of advocacy for the poor.
“I’m something of a 1960s radical,” Hobson says, “and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a rapid societal shift as the $15 wage.”
There’s only one hitch, and it’s a doozy: He can’t pay it.
Hobson, as director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, is Seattle’s largest employer of social workers and counselors to the homeless. He’s got 520 full-time workers running a network of apartments, shelters and crisis clinics for the city’s sickest and most vulnerable — thousands of mentally ill or drug-addicted folks who, on any given day, would be out lying on sidewalks or under bridges without the help of Hobson’s crew.
Of that crew, though, 171 make less than $15 an hour. His 30 janitors start at $11.75. The hundred-plus counselors who staff the agency’s buildings start at $12.75 — a “travesty,” Hobson says, considering many have college degrees in social work.
But paying $15 will cost him $1.25 million he doesn’t have.And he's not alone;
A recent survey found a $15-an-hour wage would cost more than $10 million for a sampling of social-service agencies, while child-care centers could take up to a $20 million hit. Nursing homes were not surveyed, but would doubtless add many millions more.A little too close to home?