Councilman Ed Harris: “Why I voted to increase the minimum wage in San Diego.”

by on September 11, 2014 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, History, Labor, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

Ed Harris OB Plan02

Councilman Ed Harris, the day OB Community Plan was approved by City Council.

By Ed Harris

Last weekend I was outside the Trader Joe’s at Liberty Station where I met Pete.

Pete is from Los Angeles and came down to San Diego to obtain signatures opposing the minimum-wage ordinance. I listened to him talking to a woman about the ordinance, and since Pete wasn’t completely forthcoming with his information, I felt compelled to intervene.

I introduced myself as one of the San Diego City Councilmembers who voted in favor of the ordinance. I then asked the woman if she knew what she was signing. “Not really,” she said. When I asked Pete why he was gathering signatures, he told me, “Hey, I’m just trying to make a living.” (People collecting signatures make between $5 and $7 per signature.)

I supported an increase in the minimum wage because an additional $1.50 over three years is a fair compromise. That pencils out to $12 a day more for minimum wage workers. I couldn’t support the figures of $13.09 or $15 an hour that had been on the bargaining table.

As a Marine veteran, it concerns me that in San Diego we have more than 10,000 veterans currently making the minimum wage. For over 200 years, our service men and women have not let us down. Yet, as a nation we frequently fail our veterans. Why would we want to fail them again?

Shortly after the Trader Joe’s incident, a friend called to tell me a local radio host was on the air talking about the minimum wage ordinance and was speaking about me in less than flattering terms. The radio host also told his listeners that if you’re 25 years old and making minimum wage you have failed in life. I quickly jumped on the phone and called in to the station.

It’s amazing to me how divisive this has become, and being called “a villain” on the radio was certainly a first. Other cities like San Jose and Seattle successfully passed minimum wage ordinances to help keep their residents out of poverty, and small businesses didn’t close their doors because of it. Why wouldn’t we want to give a modest wage increase to our neighbors?

I supported a modest increase in the minimum wage because it was the smart and right thing to do. Putting a few extra dollars into the pockets of working people can make a world of difference for them and their families, and I believe our community and our country are stronger when we help each other and weaker when we undermine each other.

It’s ironic that Pete had to resort to collecting signatures opposing a measure that supports his own interests. But then again Pete, like his neighbors in San Diego, is just trying to make a living.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

RB September 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

So my representative on the city council, Mr. Harris, was appointed the other Dems and without a vote by the District….
And now this representative votes with those who appointed him (payback) and thinks I and others in his District should have no vote or voice on the minimum wage.
Voting and democracy is so old school in San Diego………Politcs 24/7…Democracy only when it is convenient.


gristmiller September 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm

“a modest wage increase” is more an insult to working people. No one should be proud of it.


Steve September 12, 2014 at 12:09 am

Sorry but if minimum wage goes up, you have to force companies to increase everyone’s wages. It’s only fair, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

If you’re 25+ or trying to raise a family off minimum wage, that’s your own damn fault. Learn new skills, get educated. You can find a wealth of information on the Internet for free that can increase your chances of finding a real job. But it seems people are just too lazy or stupid to figure it out, and we the tax payers have to bail them out. Sorry but that’s bullshit.


Frank Gormlie September 12, 2014 at 10:13 am

Geez! Dude, settle down. You are aware that we’re still dealing with the Great Recession – which hasn’t really ended with the lower rungs of the economic ladders. Plus, don’t you understand that once the minimum wage is raised, all that money will be spent on landlords, markets, consumer items, gas, food, small merchants, Walmart, Target, Charley’s Burger, Robertos, People’s, … and hey, Steve, maybe you’ll even get a raise.


Steve September 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

That’s what’s sad. If minimum wage gets raised, people will be spending that extra money on more material things that puts them in greater debt instead of saving that extra money.


Steve September 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Also, not sure if it crossed your mind or not but if fast food places are forced to hire someone off the street at $13-$15/hour, fast food places might start to highly consider using those self-order/self-checkout machines instead of hiring more employees. So the only employees will pretty much be cooks.

I remember a few years ago, the Jack in the Box in OB experimented with one of those self-order machines and I was able to try it out. It was actually a quite painless process and experience. You push buttons to make your order, then you insert cash or swipe your card and then wait for your food. No language barriers to screw up your order, no dealing with stressed out, unruly employees, etc. And if you’re order does get screwed up, it’s either you entered it wrong or the cook messed it up, it’s one or the other.


SaneVoice September 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Someone gets laid off because some CEO can’t handle making 1.4 million dollars instead of 1.5 million. That person then has to start over and takes a minimum wage job (because those are the majority of positions that these “job creators” create) so they’re stupid and lazy ? And in case you forgot, spending money and buying products helps the economy. Saving it for a rainy day does zilch to improve the economy.

Just own up and admit you’re just a bitter pill that doesn’t like people and would rather interact with machines all day.


Graham Wellington September 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Gee Frank, that sounds a lot like trickle down economics. Sad part is these businesses will have to either raise prices/rents or do the same with less employees since they gotta maintain their margins because they aint UNICEF (Joe Dirt reference) or the gubment. Union workers will win out though because many union contact wages are tied to the minimum wage. Thats what its mostly about. Its a big union money trip.


SaneVoice September 12, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Except for the fact that it is the exact opposite of trickle-down economics.


gristmiller September 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Some how the fact that the NFL commissioner makes 44 million a year, almost a million a week, and regularly makes stupid decisions, fits into the discussion.


David September 13, 2014 at 8:48 am

As an owner of a small business employing 32 people, I can promise that if this minimum wage ordinance is upheld, I will be cutting many hours and probably letting go 3 to 4 employees. That is the problem with this ordinance, first it does not take into consideration the mom and pop businesses who cannot afford this like a Starbucks or Burger King can, also it does not take into consideration that a waiter or waitress can make 30 to 50 dollars an hour!!! Why do they need a raise??? Poorly thought out policy which will hurt small mom and pop business and lead to guaranteed hour cuts and employee cuts, When the minimum wage was raised by the state from $8 to $9 I cut a 100 hours a week off of my payroll, the state has also raised the minimum wage to $10 in 2016, HELLO SAN DIEGO THE RATE WAS JUST RAISED 2 DOLLARS AN HOUR BY gOVERNOR bROWN!!!!!


Patriccio September 15, 2014 at 6:22 pm

So I have about a dozen employees, & when minimum wage increased, I raised prices a bit. What really did me in was when SDGE raised our utility rates 40%! Now, I work more & I cut hours of several employees. Investors at Sempra will do well, mainly because the money I would have paid to employees will now transfer to SDGE. The employees who have had their wages reduced would have spent their wages locally; the monies going to SDGE may transfer to some of their local employees, but I bet the bulk of the transfer will go to Sempra investors.
The energy sector screwed us royally about 14-15 years ago, & they will do it again & again.


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