Signature drive begins to overturn minimum wage increase

A group of health care and small business owners Thursday kicked off a signature drive to have the voters overturn the City Council’s increase in the minimum wage. At the same time, dozens of signature gatherers were out at strip malls and grocery stores collecting signatures.  Below is a rundown of the day’s events.

In the past, when signature gatherers fanned out across the city to collect signatures, they, at times, had confrontations with signature blockers who harassed and bullied voters into not signing the petitions.

We didn’t see any confrontations at the Vons store on Balboa Avenue Thursday morning, just a lone woman gathering signatures as people headed into the store.

With such a short window to meet the goal (29 days), an average of 1,700 signatures will have to be collected each day.

In the meantime, small businesses and non-profit health care providers in Sorrento Valley were talking about some of the unintended consequences the public was not aware of when the council increased the minimum wage.

“We can’t continue to sustain this,” said Mark Berger of Partnerships for Industry. “I don’t think the citizens of San Diego saw this consequence when this ordinance was passed, It’s time for it to be reversed.”

Berger provides job training for people with disabilities of all types. He said 25 percent of disabled people do work, and this increase will cost some their jobs.

“They will be the first ones to let go. I don’t want to see the 75 percent unemployment grow to 85 or 90.”

Michael Sclar is with Comfort Keepers. He wonders how those who need round-the-clock in-home care will be able to afford increased costs that will be passed on to his clients.

“Our clients have already had to make adjustments as a result of a state increase in the minimum wage on January 1, and July 1 of this year,” said Sclar.

Laurie Edward Tate runs Your Home Family Care. She says “people with middle- and upper-middle incomes, and people who are retired on fixed incomes, will not be able to afford this care.”

“A 44 percent tack-on is going to do nothing but devastate our already stretched senior and disabled programs.”

“Just by itself this 44 percent increase will force many seniors from their homes, and will kill many jobs here in the community,” said David Chong of Coast Care Partners.

Mark Klaus of Home of Guiding Hands says the non-profits, whose rates are set by the state, have no options to raise prices.

“We’re gonna have to look at reductions in hours, we’re gonna have to look at benefits, there’s really no other way to take this,” said Klaus.

Over the next 29 days we’re going to hear a lot about the impact on the low wage earners, the people who employ them, and the voters.

“This is a huge issue, and they need the opportunity to express their will, their opinions, their concerns,” said small business owner Ann Kinner.

The Small Business Coalition is leading this effort. They need to collect 34,000 signatures from registered voters who reside within the city limits of San Diego.

Categories: KUSI