City Council approves minimum wage increase, mayor to issue veto

Every employee in the city of San Diego who is making the minimum wage got another raise Monday – the second raise this month. On July 1st, the state raised the minimum wage to $9 an hour; Monday, the City Council upped that to $9.75 beginning in January and they added 5 days of sick leave. The council chose to do this by ordinance rather than a public vote, but voters may have the last word. This is an economic issue, but the arguments for and against – as well as the vote – tell the public that this is also a political issue.

The vote went strictly along party lines: 6 Democrats in favor, 3 Republicans against. The Democrats see the increase as a livable wage that will reduce employee turnover, help lift families out of poverty and benefit the local economy because the money will be spent in San Diego.

“San Diegans know that a stronger workforce and a stronger economy will result from the passage of this measure,” stated City Council President Todd Gloria.

Many small business owners say let’s wait and see what the impact of the state increase will have before we add to it locally.

“I can’t increase my costs like some businesses can; the only thing I can do is cut the number of hours that I am paying someone to work in my store,” said Point Loma store owner Ann Kinner.

Mark Klaus provides services to the mentally disables and his rates are set by the state.

“There’s no other way for us to raise our rates. The only options we have at this time is to do more fundraising.”

“It’s not fair to our industry and will hurt the people who need it most,” declared Mike Staples, president of the Hotel/Motel Association.

But the vote was a foregone conclusion – the Democrats had a super majority.

“Mayor Faulconer needs to do the right thing and sign this legislation, not look at this as a Republican mayor,” said Mickey Kasparian of the United Food Workers Union. “It doesn’t matter – this is about 200,000 workers.”

The mayor will not sign this legislation; he will veto it.

“Yes, I remain opposed,” stated Faulconer. “This is just the wrong policy for San Diego, particularly our hard-working families and our small businesses. The state is already raising the minimum wage for San Diegans. To put costs on top of that puts us at a disadvantage. That’s not what we want for San Diegans.”

The Chamber of Commerce has been the lead voice in opposing the wage increase above the $9 mandated by the state that began July 1st. Its statement says: “the council’s increase is effectively a tax on every San Diego resident because the cost of this increased wage will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices on goods and services.”

A coalition of business owners has already begun collecting money for a signature drive to put this before the voters in November.

“Regardless of what route the coalition might go, where the local business leaders might go, things are happening to prepare no matter what the decision is,” said Jason Roe of Revolvis Consulting.

The increase is also indexed to inflation – when it goes up, so do the wages. Then there’s the cost to monitor and enforce the increase: the council’s budget analyst puts that cost at $1.2 million.

Categories: KUSI