It’s Time to Stand Up for Increasing the Minimum Wage, San Diego!

by on June 11, 2014 · 0 comments

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


San Diego City Clerk’s office, circa 1900.

San Diegans Are Urged to Attend Council Committee Hearing Today – June 11th

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country.”~ President Franklin D Roosevelt

By Doug Porter

It’s been the season of (talking about) minimum wage increases. Now it’s time to take action.

On Wednesday the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be discussing a proposal supported by Council President Todd Gloria. If the committee approves it will go to the full City Council. Then Council members will then decide whether to approve the wage hike or send it to the ballot for a public vote.

Local supporters of Gloria’s measure, led by Raise Up San Diego are calling for people to attend the committee hearing, slated for the 12th floor at city hall, Wednesday, June 11th from 9am til Noon. Over 200 people showed for an earlier hearing back in April. If you can’t attend, but wish to voice your support, you can send a letter to your councilpersons by clicking here.

Lincoln face palmSan Diego’s “business as usual” coalition, fronted by Jerry “I know nothing about police corruption” Sanders, is taking a two pronged approach to defeat this measure. Last Thursday they released a rehash of conservative thought, calling it a study so the assembled media would take them seriously. Since they know public opinion backs a minimum wage increase, people associated with the Lincoln “We’re not really racists” Club are circulating petitions for a fraudulent initiative: 93% of all potentially eligible people would be exempted.

Arguments against raising the minimum wage have been recycled over the past 85 years, starting with the The Fair Labor Standards Act, which also established the policy of time and a half for overtime and banned most child labor. I’ll be sharing some of those arguments today in the form of quotes, culled from the National Employment Law Project / Cry Wolf Project.

“[The Fair Labor Standards Act} constitutes a step in the direction of communism, bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism.” ~ The National Association of Manufacturers, 1937

Congress has increased the minimum wage seven times since 1938, each time to a chorus of nearly identical predictions of economic catastrophe. Typically these prognostications include businesses being forced to close, consumer inflation, job loss and the notion that the people who are supposed to benefit from any increase will be harmed. San Diego’s reactionaries have been trotting out all of these arguments in recent days.

“The proposed jump from an hourly minimum of 40 to 65 cents at once and 70 and 75 cents in the following years is a reckless jolt to the economic system. Living standards instead of being improved would fall–probably to record lows.” — Rueben S. Haslam, The National Association of Manufacturers, 1945

increaseCalifornia’s minimum wage will increase from $8.00 an hour to $9.00 an hour on July 1st, with a further increase to $10.00 an hour in January, 2016. Currently there is legislation already approved by the California Senate that would further increase the pay floor. I am skeptical about this legislation making it through the Assembly this week.

“I think the people who are proposing these things don’t know what they are talking about. It means economic chaos for the very people they are trying to help.” ~ Senator Barry Goldwater, 1955

Via the San Francisco Chronicle

– Calling last year’s minimum wage hike a good first step, the California Senate approved a measure Thursday that would further lift the pay floor to $13 an hour by 2017.

The bill by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, comes about a month before the state’s minimum wage is set to increase from $8 an hour to $9 in July as part of legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that also included another $1 per hour by 2016.

Leno’s SB 935 would override and increase the ladder raise as minimum wage would move to $11 in 2015, $12 in 2016 and $13 by 2017. Starting in 2018, the bill calls for additional adjustments annually for inflation. The bill is sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California and SEIU California State Council and is now headed to the stat Assembly for consideration.

An article in the New York Times today takes a look at who could be affected by President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage, noting that minimum wage increases could appear on the ballot in as many as 34 states this year.

  • Minimum-wage workers are older than they used to be. Their average age is 35, and 88 percent are at least 20 years old. Half are older than 30, and about a third are at least 40.

  • These patterns are somewhat new. In 1979, 27 percent of low-wage workers (those making $10.10 per hour or less in today’s dollars) were teenagers, compared with 12 percent in 2013, according to John Schmitt and Janelle Jones

  • They’re split fairly evenly between full-timers and part-timers.Most — 54 percent — work full-time schedules (at least 35 hours per week), and another 32 percent work at least half time (20-34 hours per week).

  • st-reaganMany have kids. About one-quarter (27 percent) of these low-wage workers are parents, compared with 34 percent of all workers. In all, 19 percent of children in the United States have a parent who would benefit from the increase.

  • One in eight lives in a high-income household. About 12 percent of those who would gain from an increase to $10.10 live in households with incomes above $100,000. This group highlights the fact that the minimum wage is not nearly as well targeted toward poverty reduction as the earned-income tax credit, a wage subsidy whose receipt, unlike the minimum wage, is predicated on family income.

  • Still, a minimum-wage increase does much more to help low- and moderate-income households than any other groups. Households that make less than $20,000 receive 5 percent of the nation’s total earnings, for instance — but would receive 26 percent of the benefit from the proposed minimum-wage increase.

“The minimum wage has caused more misery and unemployment than anything since the Great Depression” ~ Gov. Ronald Reagan, Candidate for President of the United States 1980

An important part of the measure under consideration by the San Diego City Council is language establishing earned sick days for local employees. Similar statewide legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez appears to be dying in the Senate. UPDATE: The Assemblywoman’s office says the bill is scheduled for a committee vote tomorrow morning and has not encountered any significant Democratic opposition. UT-San Diego ran an article about this bill back in January, calling it “paid sick leave,” a spin being used by opponents.

Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families don’t really exist. Congressman Tom Delay, 1996

Back in March Council President Gloria presented his rationale for the measure under consideration “Nobody should be forced to choose between losing a day’s pay and staying home to take care of a sick loved one, and nobody who works full time should live in poverty.”

“In fact, the impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire less people… We have a lot of history to prove that the minimum wage, raising the minimum wage does not grow the middle class.” ~ Sen. Marco Rubio, 2013


This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column at San Diego Free Press, the online media partner of the OB Rag.

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