Effective May 1, the minimum wage in Seattle went from $11 to $15 an hour. While many workers are enjoying the pay bump, not everyone will be able to do so for long. Devin Jeran, a Z Pizza employee, and his 11 coworkers will soon find themselves without a job thanks to the new mandates.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Jeran’s employer will be shutting the doors at Z Pizza in August because she can’t afford to pay the higher wages.
Ritu Shah Burnham, speaking to Fox Q13, expressed that she didn’t want to go out of business, but doesn’t feel she has other options.
“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she said. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”
Though Shah Burnham operates a business with only 12 employees, she doesn’t qualify for the slower roll out of the mandate offered to small businesses. Her Z Pizza location is considered part of the larger franchise, preventing her from leveraging the six additional years small businesses have to make the change to help keep the restaurant in business.
Shah Burnham believes that if she had the full amount of time allotted to other small businesses, she could have stayed. She said, “The discrimination I’m feeling right not against my small business makes me not want to stay and do anything in Seattle.”
While Jeran appreciates that Shah Burnham “didn’t just tell us last minute,” he does wonder if people considered the potential results of making minimum wage changes that were supposed to improve things for him.
“If that’s the truth, I don’t think that’s very apparent. People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever.”
When asked to comment on the upcoming closure, Jess Spear, the director of 15 Now Seattle, the organization that pushed legislation for a higher minimum wage, wouldn’t comment directly about the closure of Z Pizza, saying she was unaware of the situation. However, Spear did say, “Restaurants open and close all of the time, for various reasons.”
Shah Burnham went on to express concern for her employees regarding how the closure will impact them. “I absolutely am terrified for them,” she said. “I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board.”
The mayor of Seattle and members of the City Council have yet to comment on the closure.