By Doug Porter
Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.
Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton standing up in favor of the measure and United Foodservice and Commercial Workers’ Mickey Kasparian giving an impassioned speech.
In the end, the City Council did the right thing, voting 6-3 to enact by ordinance a minimum wage hike, with raises in three stages effective January, 2015. This means the measure will not be placed before the voters in November.
Additional increases will come in successive years, topping out at $11.50 in January, 2017. Starting in January 2019, further hikes will be tied to the consumer price index.
The measure as passed awards full time employees up to five days a year in earned paid sick leave; part-time workers will earn prorated sick leave based on the number of hours they work.
How It Will Work
City Council President Todd Gloria held a celebratory press conference following the vote, leading off with “Tonight, the City Council made history.”
A press release from his office supplied further details:
The proposal includes no exemptions for any industry or business.The Center on Policy Initiatives estimated that 279,000 workers will now earn sick leave.
The Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at UC Berkeley also analyzed the proposal and determined it will result in raises for at least 172,000 San Diegans. Further, the number of San Diegans receiving raises could be as high as 214,000 in 2017.On average, the raises will add $1,400 per year to the paychecks of employees now making minimum wage or slightly above it, resulting in an additional $260 million per year going into the pockets of low-income San Diegans, which they are expected to spend on necessities like food, shelter, and clothing, benefiting the local economy.
The Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, which specializes in estimating the impacts o local and state wage proposals, detailed additional impacts of the San Diego measure in its analysis.
**An estimated 60% of people working in the local food services industry will get a raise byJanuary 1, 2017, a larger proportion than in any other industry. In sheer numbers, the retail trade industry will account for the most raises.
** Half of everyone working part-time (less than 35 hours a week) will get a raise.
** 85% of those earning a raise will be between age 20 and 55; only 5% of those getting a raise would be teenagers
It Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over
The really big question this morning as I write this post concerns the response of San Diego’s downtown establishment-types to this measure.
From CBS8/News coverage:
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has the authority to veto the minimum wage ordinance. His spokesperson would not say if he plans to veto it but released this statement via e-mail:
“Mayor Faulconer believes San Diego thrives through its entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses that help everyday San Diegans put food on the table and provide for their families. As mayor, he is committed to helping San Diegans succeed and create opportunity. He has been very clear that he will not put the brakes on our recovering economy by placing a hindrance on local small businesses that will force them to cut jobs or hire fewer people. Mayor Faulconer is working to provide economic opportunity and jobs for all San Diegans, which is why he does not support this proposal.”
There were indications yesterday that opponents of the minimum wage increase were considering various options.
Read between the lines here in this 10News snippet:
On the other hand, Channelle Hawken, of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said raising the minimum wage above that of California would put the city at a competitive disadvantage.
“We are already seeing and hearing from our members that have businesses that are raising prices and cutting jobs in response to the current increase in the (state) minimum wage,” Hawken said. The state minimum hourly wage went from $8 to $9 on July 1.
Hawken said a recent survey of chamber members found that the proposed minimum wage increase is a bigger concern than healthcare expenses, and that 14 percent of members are considering moving out of San Diego.
The Chamber of Commerce, led by ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders was supportive of two other recent efforts to overturn measures passed by the city council. Repealing a minimum wage hike may be a tougher task than overturning a community plan or rolling back developers’ linkage fees to 1990 levels.
The question remains whether the downtown set’s Lie-O-Tron computer can generate enough scare stories to sway voters. One commenter in today’s UT made the prediction that San Diego would end up like Detroit. But this IS going to be a tough sell.
After all, as the Washington Post pointed out not too long ago:
Minimum wage hikes have been popular with voters: Since 1996, proposed increases have been on statewide ballots 15 times in 11 states — and all but two of them were successful, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington, D.C., group that supports a higher minimum wage.
A Rising Tide: $15 Hour in LA?
Eleven other municipalities around the United States have passed similar ordinances, including Albuquerque NM, Seattle WA, Bernalillo County NM, Montgomery County MD, Prince George’s County MD, San Francisco CA, San Jose CA, Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fe County NM, Washington DC, and Richmond CA.
The Los Angeles Times reports activists are planning an initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 hour in that city:
Their proposal would require a $15 minimum wage for employees who work at least two hours a week for their employer, including workers who get tips. The minimum wage would then rise annually, hitched to any increases in the consumer price index for the Los Angeles metropolitan area, according to the draft proposal. Businesses that violate the rules could face financial penalties. If ultimately approved by voters, the boost would go into effect immediately for larger businesses, with a delay of less than two years for small businesses and nonprofits, Parker said…
…The bid to boost the minimum wage citywide follows other efforts to boost pay for some — but not all — Angelenos. The Los Angeles Unified School District recently opted to ramp up wages to at least $15 an hour for service workers such as cafeteria employees, custodians and teaching assistants.
In a separate move, city officials are drafting an ordinance that would require large hotels to pay at least $15.37 an hour. But some local politicians who support that boost — including Mayor Eric Garcetti — have raised concerns about singling out hotel workers for a minimum wage increase. Nearly half of L.A.’s hourly or salaried workers are paid less than $15 an hour, according to a 2013 report by the Economic Roundtable.
This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column at our sister online media partner, San Diego Free Press.