A Battle Over Increasing the Minimum Wage in San Diego

by on August 19, 2014 · 10 comments

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

minimum wage 2Don’t Sign It! Don’t Sign the Petition to Overturn San Diegos’ Minimum Wage – see below

Editor: The following is Doug Porter’s article posted today on DailyKos about the fight over our city’s minimum wage law. Much of it is a repeat of material Doug has used in his Daily Column at our sister online media partner, San Diego Free Press.  (“douigbob” is Porter’s online handle at that site.)

by dougbob /DailyKos / Aug 19, 2014

A City Council veto override on Monday has set the scene for a showdown between local and national business interests vs. a labor-community coalition over San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance.

Following months of public hearings and invitations (mostly declined) for local businesses to hammer out a compromise, the city council passed an ordinance providing access to five earned sick days and setting a local minimum wage increasing to $11.50 over three years.

This action makes San Diego the largest city in the nation to raise the minimum wage.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer–said to be one of the bright new faces in the GOP– then turned thumbs down on the bill on Friday, August 8th. Although the council was slated for vacation for the rest of the month, a special session was called by president Todd Gloria. The 6-2 vote upholding the ordinance surprised nobody.

It didn’t take but a few hours before a well-financed Chamber of Commerce-led group announced it would be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

Go to DailyKos for the balance of the article. Be sure to hit the “like” button.

 Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

By Doug Porter – at today’s San Diego Free Press

As expected yesterday, the City Council voted to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance. The vote was 6-2, with all Democrats supporting and Republicans Mark Kersey, and Scott Sherman opposed. Councilwoman Lori Zapf did not attend the meeting.

Not long after the council vote Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders dialed up the media, announcing they’d be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

Rise Up San Diego, the alliance of community, faith and labor groups supporting the ordinance passed by the City Council has announced it will mount an educational campaign urging people to decline to sign the referendum petitions.

To push back against this brazen attack against hard working San Diegans we need your help! Council President Todd Gloria, Irwin Jacobs, Mel Katz, Bill Walton and Barbara Bry kicked off the citywide campaign, simply called “Don’t Sign It,” to defeat the referendum against the ordinance.

Today, City Council stood up for 280,000 San Diegans who lack sick leave and nearly 200,000 low-wage workers who work hard every day and can’t afford rent and groceries, now its time to do our part. Here’s what you can you do:

  • Take the pledge not to sign the anti-sick days anti-minimum wage petitions.
  • Inform as many people as possible that the earned sick days and minimum wage policy HAS PASSED, and that any signature gathering effort is an attempt to TAKE IT AWAY!! Tell your friends: DON’T SIGN IT!
  • If you see a signature gatherer, call or text the following hotline: (619) 930 – 3300

dontsignitRating the Job Creation Claim

It’s important to remember here that the people you’ll soon see in the news babbling about “job creation” and “job loss” are the sames ones who lied to San Diegans about the Navy leaving town when the Barrio Logan plan was being considered.

They operate from a place where the mantra holding that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are somehow linked to increased employment is held to be an essential truth.

gapThe National Employment Law Center announced its support of the Minimum Wage increase, issuing a press release refuting Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s claims that the ordinance will make it more difficult to create jobs in San Diego.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high.

As summarized recently in a statement by 600 economists, including seven Nobel Laureates and eight past presidents of the American Economic Association, “In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market.”

The War on the Minimum Wage is a War on Women

The Upshot column at the New York Times, wherein they try to delve into the numbers behind the news has a compelling story posted about the people who are most impacted by the low wage economy.

The article quotes Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who gave a speech yesterday on the impact of inequality on families at the American Sociological Association’s annual convention in San Francisco.

equal pay notA few snippets from the Times article:

The attention paid to income and wealth inequality spurred by the French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-selling opus, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” comes with a caveat from some of its fans: What about women?…

…It’s at the lowest income levels that the burden on women stands out. Not only are they more likely than men to be in a minimum-wage job, but women are also much more likely to be raising a family on their own…

…So while the number of families living on less than $2 per person per day doubled between 1996 and 2011, according to the National Poverty Center, it tripled among families headed by a lone woman…

….“If the trickle-down theory were correct, the richest countries would have the highest proportion of thriving children,” Ms. Hochschild argues. But they don’t.

A 2010 Unicef report that measured the health, education and material well-being of a nation’s poorest children against its median children found that the United States ranked 23rd out of 24 nations. The only country that scored lower was Slovakia.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Aging Hippie August 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

The arguments the petitioners will use are that this measure will result inflation and unemployment. Neither argument is true.

The first argument assumes that prices are based on cost. They are not, they are based on market; what customers are willing to pay. McDonald’s thinks they can get $2.79 for a Big Mac. It doesn’t matter if the Big Mac cost them $1.19 or $1.57 or $2.03, it will still sell for $2.79, because that’s the most they can (or believe they can) get for it.

The second argument assumes that employers provide jobs out of charity or compassion. They do not, they hire the minimum number of people that they must have to operate their business, and not one more. The same argument is true of hours; employers ask their employees to work the number of hours that must be worked to operate the business, and not one hour more. So no, employers will not lay people off or cut hours.

Now it’s possible that some goods or services may become unavailable because they cannot be produced at a profit, but in the hospitality or fast food industries that will be most affected, profit margins are so high that that’s unlikely.

A few badly managed businesses may go out of business, thus losing a few jobs. But those lost jobs will be more than compensated for by the many jobs created when minimum wage workers begin demanding goods and services they already need, but cannot afford. And those new jobs will create more demand for goods and services, creating even more jobs.

If you give a working person a dollar, they will do one of 2 things with it, depending on how responsible they are. They may pay down their debt or save the money for a future emergency, or they may purchase goods and services. Whichever one they do will improve the economy. If you give a rich person a dollar, they have no debts or need for emergency savings, and they already buy all the goods and services they want. So they will do one of 2 things with the extra money: buy political influence, or speculate in the market. Either of those things is bad for the economy.

Unfortunately, these messages won’t get out, and the false messages of Jerry Sanders and the CofC and the Lincoln Club will get out. Whenever a badly worded petition circulates (Barrio Logan, for example) it always gets on the ballot, and the bad guys always win. I fear this will be no different.


Bearded OBcean August 20, 2014 at 9:32 am

Paying down one’s debt or saving for an emergency doesn’t improve the economy. It’s no different than putting your money under your mattress.

Your Big Mac analogy is a good one. You neglect to mention that the increased cost of, say, $25,000 per year to the small business owner because of higher wages will shift costs to the customer. If the minimum wage employee can’t afford a Big Mac at $2.79, what makes you think that same employee can afford that same Big Mac at $3.79 with the 25% increase in price?


Tyler August 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

Paying down debt and saving for emergencies doesn’t help the economy? Are you serious? If people were paying down debt with their discretionary spending that would be a problem but if they are paying it down with an increased amount of money coming in (more wages) that would allow them to pay down their debts responsibly, take on more debt, and continue their discretionary spending. That is all positive for the economy and US GDP.


Bearded OBcean August 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

How does adding to your savings help the economy? The money isn’t going into the economy, it’s going under your mattress. Same is true for paying down debt. You’re not putting money into the economy, you’re paying your bank.

You make a lot of assumptions about what people will do, ie paying down debts responsibly while taking on more debt. For a number of people who can’t balance their checkbook or who live paycheck to paycheck, that’s just not realistic.


Tyler August 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm

But if your own assumption you just made is correct, they won’t pay down their debts with the extra money responsibly and instead will pump even more money into the economy. Are we supposed to not give them more purchasing power because many of them lack the education to make sound financial decisions?

As for savings, the health of our savings accounts indeed have effect on the economy and it’s actually quite different than putting it under your mattress. Putting money into a savings account allows the bank to then go and use that money to lend out to businesses so long as they can meet financial stress tests. The more people save, the more money banks have to lend. When businesses have more money, they hire more people.

When the crash happened, interest rates were high, and everyone was spending at an alarming rate without any savings in the bank. The dominoes fell and the banks couldn’t risk/afford to lend. The opposite is occurring now. People are saving more, and the banks are using this along with historically low rates to lend lots of money. This is turn is what is helping to create jobs right now.


sean M August 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Do unused sick days get paid out when someone quits? Do sick days accrue or are all 5 immediately available upon hiring?


sean M August 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Found it at sdea.com. one sick hour accrued for every 30 hours worked and are not required to be paid out upon separation.

employees should use them before they announce they are leaving. Small Business employees should keep records of their hours in case their managers miscount.


Aging Hippie August 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Without paid sick time, your waiter or waitress or fast food worker is working while sick, breathing their influenza on your food.


Steve August 20, 2014 at 10:15 am

Then we go back to the basics, survival of the fittest.


RB August 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm

The minimum wage hike should be put to a public vote, period.
Even Council President Todd Gloria originally proposed a public vote.
We should stop this war on women (and men) and allow them to vote on this issue.


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