Increasing San Diego’s Minimum Wage: If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu

by on March 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, History, Labor, San Diego

raiseminwageBy Doug Porter / San Diego Free Press

The ‘Improving Wages and Working Conditions’ measure is set to be introduced at the City Council Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations (EDIR) Committee on Monday morning. In addition to calling for an increase in the minimum wage, the proposed initiative would also guarantee workers up to five earned sick days.

While serving as iMayor, Councilman Todd Gloria made a bold pledge to get a measure before the voters that would raise local minimum wages. He’s now softened that pledge a bit making it clear that the actual amount of any increase is negotiable. And the opening negotiating position for the Chamber of Commerce (and their as yet silent allies) is: Zero.

While advocates and opponents of increasing the minimum wage each have studies that purport to back up their claims, there can be no doubt about the realities that the value of dollars earned by low wage workers has decreased and the unsustainability of trying to eke out a living on the lower end of the payscale in San Diego.

This week’s City Beat has a decent overview of the quest for a better life. Here’s the meat and potatoes of the discussion:

In response to a CityBeat request, Mayor Kevin Faulconer provided this statement through a spokesperson: “As mayor, it’s my job to grow our local economy and protect the jobs San Diego families rely on. I would hope that our City Council adheres to those same priorities as they move forward.”

Asked if the Mayor’s support is necessary to put a minimum-wage initiative on the November ballot, Gloria said, “I would like to have his support. I think this effort would be even more successful if we had his support, and we’ll discuss it with him. I’m sure he’ll have strong feelings about this.”

Many in the business community have expressed support, Gloria added. “All the meetings I’ve had, everyone, maybe with one exception, said this should happen,” he said. “They get that $8 is too low, that $10 in three years is not enough. The question is, what’s the dollar figure that doesn’t harm them too much? What’s the phase-in to get to that dollar amount that makes a lot of sense?”

I have a cynical view, one that I expressed back in January while writing about Todd Gloria’s original speech:

The same folks that have spun community planning, environmental stewardship and housing for low income people into a conspiracy to drive JOBS out of the city are busy figuring out a way to drive a stake into the heart of any minimum wage increase, even if it’s to be decided at the ballot box.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, it took UT-San Diego exactly 16 minutes after Todd Gloria finished his speech to post an editorial challenging his call for an increase in the minimum wage.

Getting a real increase in the minimum wage will take a serious effort from people who all-too-often are already overworked and definitely underpaid. Organizers with Raise Up San Diego, a community coalition leading this fight are calling upon people to show up at City Hall at 9:30am on Monday, March 24th.

It’s real simple. The more people that show up, the better deal low wage workers will get. For more information: call or e-mail Norma Rodriguez at, or 619-584-5744 ext. 62.

In related news, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s state legislation proposing a to provide workers with three paid sick days a year was approved by the Committee on Labor and Employment, 5-1. It now goes to the Judiciary Committee. The UT-San Diego story on the bill’s progress ends with:

Of the 70 bills branded “job killers” [by the Chamber of Commerce] since 2012, all but five have failed to become law.


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