Decline to Sign
Following is the Press Release from Raise Up San Diego, distributed at at 8am press conference this morning:
Basketball great Bill Walton appeared with hard working San Diegans and local business, community and political leaders on Thursday to kick-off a campaign to urge city voters not to sign petitions seeking a referendum on the city’s new minimum wage and earned sick leave ordinance.
“We stand for a San Diego in which hard-working people aren’t locked in poverty and in which they can earn a few days off a year for when they get sick or need to care for an ill child or other loved one,” Walton said. “We know the vast majority of San Diegans feel the same way, and we urge them to say no to the signature gatherers.”
Sponsored by City Council President Todd Gloria, the wage and earned sick leave ordinance is backed by a growing coalition of local businesses, and nonprofit civic and social service organizations. It was passed in July by a majority of the City Council and, public opinion surveys show, has broad support among voters.
At the forefront of the coalition working to preserve the ordinance are Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and former Regional Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mel Katz, who was scheduled to appear with Walton at the campaign kick-off. A local minimum-wage boost and the ability to earn sick leave, Katz says, are good social and economic policy and good businesses because it improves productivity.
“We know that a raise given to minimum wage workers will be spent locally on necessities like housing, food and travel, and will recirculate through the local economy many times over,” said Katz, co-owner of Manpower San Diego. “We also know that a healthier and happier workforce is more productive workforce and contributes to business stability and performance.”
At the current $9-an-hour state minimum wage, full-time work pays $1,560 a month before taxes, barely enough to cover the $1,032 average monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego.
Regardless, some local business interests, with the backing of national restaurant and hospitality chains, are threatening a referendum to try to keep it that way in San Diego. The first step now in the works is a planned petition push to block enactment of the law and force an election on the ordinance sometime next year.
Andrea Tookes, a minimum-wage security officer and mother in San Diego, says the ability to earn sick leave would mean not having to choose between job security and a pay day, and taking care of one her four children when one of them becomes ill and can’t go to school.
“That’s a terrible choice,” said Tookes. “You don’t want to send your kids to school sick. You can’t leave them home alone. And you can’t afford to forfeit pay or give your employer the impression you’re not a dependable employee.”
Jessie Thomas, a college student and part-time restaurant employee, says the cost of living of living in San Diego and minimum wage are getting so out of whack she worries she soon might have to put her dream of a college degree on hold so she can work and earn more.
“I’m trying to raise myself up but feeling dragged down,” Thomas said. “The ability to earn a little extra each month without giving up my classes would make a world of difference.”