Gloria’s Modified Proposal To Raise San Diego’s Minimum Wage Moves Forward
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Aired 6/18/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Gloria's Modified Proposal To Raise San Diego's Minimum Wage Moves Forward
Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council President
Claire Crawford, President & Executive Director Center on Policy Initiatives
The San Diego City Council has voted to direct staff to begin conferring with the city's labor unions over a proposal to raise the minimum wage in San Diego to $11.50 an hour.
Increase Schedule Under New Proposal
Jan. 1, 2015: $9.75
Jan. 1, 2016: $10.50
Jan. 1, 2017: $11.50
Indexing to inflation to begin on Jan. 1, 2019.
There will be no exemptions for any industry or business.
As a San Diego City Council committee gets ready to discuss raising San Diego's minimum wage to $13.09 an hour, we hear from San Diego's small-business community.
Council President Todd Gloria revised the hourly figure downward today, but many business representatives expressed continued opposition to his plan.
Under the new proposal, minimum wage workers would earn $11.50 per hour. If approved by voters, the increase would occur over three years and be indexed for inflation.
Gloria's original proposal included gradually increasing the minimum wage to $13.09 an hour and allowing workers to earn five sick days a year. The proposal drew opposition from Mayor Kevin Faulconer, some members of the City Council and business groups. Gloria said he met numerous times with representatives on both sides of the issue.
"During those exchanges, I heard that my proposal brought too much change, too fast, and that a higher minimum wage would put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage,'' he said. "This is a common-sense compromise that reduces the potential impact on businesses while maintaining tremendous benefits for our workers and our economy.''
Despite the adjustment, some business groups remained opposed to the increase.
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders said the organization appreciated Gloria's "willingness" to modify his proposal, but the group's opinion on the matter hasn't changed.
In a statement, Sanders, the city's former mayor, said raising San Diego’s minimum wage and sick leave above the state's mandate "would put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage compared to nearby cities."
"The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce appreciates Council President Todd Gloria’s willingness to consider a minimum wage lower than the $13.09 he originally proposed.
However, raising San Diego’s minimum wage and sick leave above and beyond what the state has already mandated would put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage compared to nearby cities. The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee takes the position that regulations concerning wages should be initiated federally to ensure a level playing field, and at a minimum, they should be set at the state level to avoid city-by-city inconsistencies that would put San Diego’s job creators at a competitive disadvantage.
What we hear time and again from our small business members is growing concern over the unpredictability of state and city regulations. We have also heard concern over a proposal that includes an automatic annual increase based on CPI with no exemptions and without public review.
The Chamber encourages the City Council to wait until the economic impacts of the state mandated minimum wage increase to $10.00 by January 2016 are fully understood and can be analyzed."
Mark Arabo, president of the Neighborhood Market Association, also opposed the increase, but because it didn't exempt small businesses from the hike.
"Not including a small-business exemption for businesses with less than 12 employees, similar to the living wage ordinance that's already on the City of San Diego's books, could be the dagger in the hearts of mom-and-pop businesses in San Diego," Arabo said.
Earlier this month, organizations on both sides of the debate held competing news conferences, and pointed to studies that support their respective views on the issue.
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce released a report that showed the increase would hurt small businesses and minimally benefit San Diegans living in poverty.
Proponents of the proposal to increase San Diego's minimum wage hosted a rally to drum up support. They say the current rate of $8 per hour isn't enough to make ends meet without government assistance, according to a report released earlier this year by Center on Policy Initiatives, a nonprofit that advocates for the working poor.
KPBS's Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segments of this story.