Minimum wage hike proposal to go before City Council

More and more, the minimum wage issue is causing a polarizing division in a city that no one questions is a very expensive place in which to live. The meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee was packed and overflowing into another room. The November ballot proposal, led by Council President Todd Gloria, to gradually increase San Diego’s current minimum wage of $8 an hour to $13.09 an hour by 2017 is in annual increments. Hourly worker sick leave is also part of the proposal.

“The proposed ordinance continues to be five earned sick leave days a year – based one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked,” said Gloria.

The local center on policy initiatives says $13.09 is the least amount of money one needs to live in San Diego on a bare-bones budget. Center researcher Robert Nothoff is part of a coalition of worker groups called Raise Up San Diego.

“Anybody who works full-time should be able to make ends meet, but they are living in poverty. If you are sick, or a child is sick, you ought to be able to stay home and not lose a day’s pay, which could mean you can’t pay a bill or even meeting your mortgage.”

But the mayor, the County Taxpayers Association and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce among others say the proposal would drastically hurt the city’s competitiveness and force local businesses to cut back workers’ hours and/or raise prices. There’s also the argument that minimum wage jobs are supposed to be entry-level jobs, not a career.

“I agree, the minimum wage should be raised,” said hotelier Bill Evans. “The working poor need help, but this doesn’t address tipped and non-tipped employees; there are some workers making $30, $40, $50,000 a year with tips. With this proposal, they also get the increase, and we think those dollars could be better spent helping the people who really need it. How would you do that? I think you could have a two-tiered wage: the people not making $16 an hour or less could get an additional salary added on to the state’s minimum wage, $1 or $2.”

Will the full Council tweak the proposal? They’re now set to discuss it next Monday.

Categories: KUSI