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Raising San Diego’s Minimum Wage Officially On June Ballot

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Carolyn Ostic gets a voter to sign a petition to force a vote on San Diego's minimum wage increase outside a Clairemont Vons on Aug. 25, 2014.

A proposal to raise the minimum wage in San Diego above what's required by the state, and offer workers up to 40 hours of annual paid sick leave, was unanimously placed on the June primary election ballot by the City Council Monday.

The wage hike and sick leave plan was approved by the City Council nearly two years ago, but opponents collected enough petition signatures to force a public vote, making Monday's action a formality. The June election is the first one scheduled since the opponents' referendum qualified for the ballot.

The measure would raise the minimum wage for employees within city limits to $10.50 an hour immediately, and to $11.50 hourly on Jan. 1 next year. Employees would also be able to accumulate the sick leave, if they don't get any already.

"We know that 38 percent of San Diegans cannot afford to make ends meet — not because they're not working, they actually do work, they just don't earn enough to live in this city," said Councilman Todd Gloria, who developed the ordinance. "People are struggling, and they need to hear from their city leaders that we will not leave them behind."

Estimates are that at least 172,000 city residents will receive raises if the measure is passed, while 279,000 will earn sick leave, he said.

Supporters of the sick leave provision say that it would provide part- time and hourly workers in places where they interact with the public, like restaurants, an incentive to stay home when they're ill — improving public health.

"The proposed 44 percent increase for San Diego only, puts our small businesses at a competitive disadvantage," said Jason Roe of the Small Business Coalition.

"The result will be that small businesses — the biggest creator of jobs in the nation — will be forced to lay off workers in order to absorb the increased costs," Roe said.

"More unemployment is not good for the economy and it is certainly not good for those struggling to make ends meet."

The council also voted 9-0 to place on the June ballot revisions to redistricting laws, which primarily have to do with how to choose members of a commission that redraws council districts every 10 years.

City Clerk Elizabeth Maland estimated the minimum wage proposition will cost the city around $465,000 to $535,000, while the one on redistricting should cost a little less.

The city has budgeted $4.2 million for elections in the current fiscal year, she said. The June primary will also include votes for mayor, city attorney and five council seats.

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