Newly-discovered emails between Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office and researchers at the University of California-Berkeley show an intimate level of coordination in planning the release and press coverage of a minimum wage study. The study they released found Seattle’s minimum wage raised wages for workers without raising unemployment.
Berkeley released their study on June 20, which was just six days before the University of Washington published their study. UW researchers found that low-income workers’ wages raised 3 percent, but their hours dropped by 9 percent — meaning the average worker lost $125 per month since the hike.
The studies’ close releases were not by chance. The Seattle City Council contracted an unbiased UW research team in 2014 to study the effects of a $15 minimum wage. However, the council cut UW’s funding when they saw an early draft of the UW study found negative results. The council then contacted researchers backing the $15 minimum wage to publish a left-leaning report before UW’s was published.
Murray hired Micheal Reich, a $15 minimum wage advocate, whose six studies found higher minimum wage to be beneficial to low-income workers.
Emails obtained by the Seattle Weekly through a public disclosure request found that Michael Reich, the lead author of the study, repeatedly contacted the mayoral office, a think tank advocating for a national $15 minimum wage, and a New York PR firm to plan the release and distribution of the report.
More emails obtained by Fox News show that Reich was to finish his report by Murray’s deadline — the three-year minimum wage-hike anniversary, and before the UW study’s release.
“Hope it’s in time for your Tuesday [minimum wage] event.” Reich emailed Murray’s office on June 18.
“The Seattle Mayor’s office would like to release the report tomorrow,” Reich wrote in an email on June 19. “I am still making some last-minute changes to the report itself. […] I’ve been working morning to evening every one of the past seven days to complete this. The timetable moved up over the weekend.”
Murray’s office told Reich to omit the UW study’s findings from his report.
“Tomorrow’s release will just highlight your study, correct (ie leave the critique of the UW study until later)? … Don’t want your positive news to serve as a teaser for the UW study,” Caldirola-Davis, the senior advisor to Murray, wrote to Reich on June 19.
The Berkeley study’s first page stated it was “prepared at the request of the Mayor of Seattle,” although Seattle was already funding six studies from the University of Washington. This phrase was strangely deleted from the online version.
Furthermore, the (identical) press releases of Berkeley, the Mayor’s Office, and the National Employment Law Project were written by Daniel Massey of PR firm BerlinRosen, who happens to be a Fight for $15 spokesperson. The PR firm also pre-picked Associated Press reporter Gene Johnson to break the report on June 20 and ensured other outlets followed.
“Full Associated Press story is up, and it’s strong. Running in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and dozens of other outlets,” Rob Duffey of BerlinRosen, wrote to Reich, Murray senior policy advisor Carlo Caldirola-Davis, Murray spokesman William Lemke, and a Berkeley communications specialist.
Conservatives were not shocked that economic laws still apply to the labor market.
“These smoking gun emails prove that the Mayor’s office knew the UW study would reveal that Seattle’s minimum wage increase has cost workers up to $1,500 a year so they colluded with left-wing allies at Berkeley to promote misinformation,” America Rising Squared spokesperson Jeremy Adler told Red Alert Politics.
“While liberals try to push fake narratives, the facts don’t lie and the facts show that these minimum wage hikes have negative side-effects that curtail workers’ hours and cost them money.”
This is the second study this year bringing bad news about high minimum wages. A Harvard study in April found that more restaurants closed under California’s minimum wage hike.
Simply put, the city council didn’t like their local researchers’ conclusion, so they shopped out-of-state to find a study with which they agreed.
But they aren’t the ones hurt by a higher minimum wage–it’s the low-income workers who lose their jobs because Seattle leaders chose politics over data..