The San Diego Unified School District‘s board Tuesday threw its unanimous backing behind a proposal to ask voters in November to raise the minimum wage and require five paid sick days for all people working in San Diego.

The minimum wage in California is $8 per hour. The state plans an increase to $9 an hour in July and $10 an hour in 2016.

Eugene Brucker Education Center is headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District. Photo courtesy

Several San Diego City Council members began a push last month to get a measure on the ballot that would increase the minimum wage in the city ahead of the planned state hikes.

On Monday, City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee gave Council President Todd Gloria and the City Attorney’s Office the go ahead to draft a ballot measure that would mandate a “meaningful” increase to the minimum wage.

If ultimately approved, the increase could be phased in to give small businesses and nonprofit organizations time to up their employees’ pay and would be linked to an annually updated a cost-of-living index.

Gloria has not specified an actual figure for the increase, but he and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith are due back before the committee with a more detailed ballot proposal on April 30.

Trustee Scott Barnett said the minimum wage affected students and their summer employment and members of many students’ families.

“While the final measures aren’t approved yet, this measure will state this board’s support for the goals of  the City Council on pursuing improving minimum wage and working conditions for San Diegans,” Barnett said.

The proposed ballot measure would also allow employees to have five days of earned sick leave.

“When people are sick, they don’t have to go to work for fear of not being able to pay their bills or feed their children,” Board President Kevin Beiser said.

Barnett and Beiser in their joint proposal to back the effort to raise the minimum wage referenced a Center on Policy Initiatives report, which found that a single person living on a stripped-down budget needs to make a $27,655 annually to live in San Diego. A family of four requires nearly $87,000 a year, which translates into each adult earning more than $20 an hour.

Barnett and Beiser said an increase would “benefit all San Diegans by increasing workplace productivity, save costs through reduced turnover, restore work/family balance, boost income for tens of thousands of San Diego families and reduce health care costs.”

A family’s socioeconomic status also impacts student achievement, and the trustees said the raises would help close the achievement gap within the district.

Opponents have said raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.