David Jones, Auditor
P.O. Box 94729
Seattle, WA 98124-4729
May 4, 2017
Dear Mr. Jones:
Our organizations and members have recently been contacted by a research assistant at the University of Chicago on behalf of Professor Susan Lambert and Professor Anna Haley-Lock to participate in the Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance Study. Our organizations will not be participating in this study as currently structured, nor will we recommend participation of our members.
We support the collection of data about impacts of the Secure Scheduling Ordinance. In fact, we believe it is critical the City collect this data. However, an objective assessment cannot be carried out by individuals who have advocated for the passage of scheduling legislation across the nation.
Professor Lambert, through her writings and presentations before legislative bodies across the country, (including before the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee) has advocated for scheduling legislation. This advocacy includes an op-ed in The New York Times. Professor Anna Haley-Lock participated in a panel hosted by Working Washington, advocating for the Seattle scheduling ordinance.
To hire researchers who have publicized beliefs on the issue to be analyzed, regardless of the side on which they fall, makes it impossible for anyone to believe the results will be unbiased. If the tables were turned and the researchers were decidedly against scheduling legislation based on previous advocacy, we would expect scheduling legislation advocates to feel the same.
The ordinance directs the City Auditor, in collaboration with the Office of Labor Standards, “to contract with academic researchers who have a proven track record or rigorous analysis of the impact of labor standards regulations to conduct an evaluation of the impacts of the ordinance.” See S.M.C. Chapter 14.22.130. This requirement can, and must, be accomplished by contracting with academic researchers with not only a proven track record of rigorous analysis, but a proven track record in objectivity.
The mission of your office states “we serve the public interest by providing the City Council, the Mayor, and City department heads with accurate information, unbiased analysis, and objective recommendations on how best to use public resources in support of the well-being of the residents of Seattle.”
The most casual review of Professor Lambert and Professor Haley-Lock’s work shows that it is not possible for them to provide unbiased and objective recommendations on the topic of scheduling legislation. The Secure Scheduling Ordinance could have a major impact on Seattle restaurants and retailers, as well as on the people who count on those businesses for their employment. If the results of the study are to be used by the City to make determinations about alterations to the Secure Scheduling Ordinance in the future, it is imperative your office contract with neutral, third-party researchers.
Director of Local Government Relations
Seattle Restaurant Alliance
VP of External Relations
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle