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San Diego City Council Gives Final OK To Minimum Wage Increase

An ordinance that would incrementally increase the minimum wage in San Diego to $11.50 an hour was given final approval Monday by the City Council.

The ordinance, which was initially approved 6-3 two weeks ago but required a follow-up vote, also mandates that employers offer five paid sick days to workers each year.

None of the council members changed their votes from before, with the council's three Republicans — Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf — dissenting.

Council President Todd Gloria said the ordinance would raise up San Diegans "in a meaningful and responsible way.'' The lowest-paid workers and economy as a whole will benefit, he said.

"Through the passage of this ordinance, this council is standing up and demonstrating that we value honest work and fair pay,'' said Gloria, who initiated the measure. "I urge the mayor to sign it into law and to stand with us against any effort to repeal it.''

The measure now goes to Mayor Kevin Faulconer's desk. In a statement, the mayor said he will veto it.

“As mayor, my job is to cultivate an atmosphere that creates economic opportunities and good-paying jobs for all San Diegans,” his statement said. “This ordinance puts our job growth in jeopardy and will lead to higher prices and layoffs for San Diego families. I will veto this ordinance because we should be looking for ways to create more jobs, not putting up roadblocks to opportunities.”

The mayor has 10 business days to veto the ordinance, and then the City Council has 30 days to vote on overriding the veto. An override would take six votes.

In a statement, Jerry Sanders, the CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he wants Faulconer to veto.

"The City Council’s minimum wage 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 in goods and services," the statement said.

The state-mandated minimum wage increased to $9 an hour on July 1.

The San Diego measure would increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017. Beginning in January 2019, the pay scale would be indexed to inflation.

With the six Democratic council members supporting the wage increase, a mayoral veto would likely fall victim to an override. That could set the stage for a referendum.

Business interests have qualified two referendums over the past year, forcing the council majority to repeal one of their actions and place the other before a public vote — where it lost.

Gloria originally proposed having residents vote on the minimum wage in November, but the council majority wanted to adopt the wage hike directly.

Business leaders say the owners of establishments such as restaurants and shops have already reported adjusting their workers' hours or raising prices in response to an increase in the state minimum wage.

Supporters of the sick leave requirement said it would keep employees from showing up for their jobs while ill, thus infecting their co-workers and customers.

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