Proposed minimum wage hike for San Diego heads to ballot

Wednesday night, members of the San Diego Organizing Project are holding a rally in support of raising San Diego’s minimum wage. This is happening at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Parish in Barrio Logan. Earlier Wednesday, Council President Todd Gloria put a number on what he thinks the minimum wage should be for all San Diego workers. Gloria wants voters to approve a plan that would raise the wage from $8 per hour to $13 per hour – and that’s not all he wants to do.

The ballot measure would also mandate 5 days of sick leave. The council president says San Diego cannot be a great city when nearly 40% of working-age households cannot make ends meet. Gloria is well aware that this will not be an easy sell to the business community, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the voters who recently elected the new mayor.

“What I’m doing today is putting my marker on the table to allow folks to respond to it and then to provide their feedback. I’m open to making changes in order to gain additional support.”

The proposal is to increase the minimum wage by $5.09, phased over three years. It would rise to $11.09 in July 2015, $12.09 in 2016 and $13.09 in 2017.

“These additional wages will be spent by workers on necessities like food and services. It will go right back into the economy.”

The research comes from the center for policy initiatives, a labor think tank. It estimates about 200,000 workers will be getting a raise that will help the local economy.

“We’re estimating that about $580 million – additional dollars – will be going directly into the pockets of some of San Diego’s lowest income working families,” said C.P.I. researcher Peter Brownell.

Small business owners like Harry Schwartz, who owns the ACE Hardware store downtown, will have to increase prices to cover the wage hikes.

“Most small businesses are not running with extra employees, so we don’t have the luxury of just saying, ‘well, we’ll just lop off 10% of our employment base so we can save money,'” fretted Schwartz.

Schwartz also worries about losing his customers to his competitors.

“If someone knows that we’re going to be paying higher wages in San Diego, and as a result have higher prices, they can look at options and say ‘maybe I’ll shop in La Mesa instead.'”

The Chamber of Commerce, which represents business, worries about the impact on jobs from such a significant increase in wages.

“The concern that we keep hearing at the Chamber is that this would cause businesses to not be able to create more jobs, and that they may even need to eliminate some jobs, especially in the part time area,” said Commerce of Commerce member Aimee Fawcett.

This proposed hike is $3 above the minimum wage the state is upholding and 2 days more in sick time. Now, many of these people work in restaurants, and some make substantial tip money – which was not included in calculating these wage increases.
Categories: KUSI