The minimum wage debate could lead to a ballot measure in San Diego. Photo credit: Americanprogressaction.org

A proposed minimum wage hike that could go before San Diego voters this fall was revised downward Monday by its chief proponent, City Council President Todd Gloria.

He originally proposed an incremental increase to $13.09 an hour. At a news conference Monday, he unveiled what he called a “compromise” $11.50-per- hour proposal, which would be phased in over three years, and like, the earlier proposal, would require employers to give workers five earned sick days.

Gloria, whose original proposal drew opposition from Mayor Kevin Faulconer, some members of the City Council and business groups, said he met numerous times with representatives of 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,” Gloria said. “This is a common-sense compromise that reduces the potential impact on businesses while maintaining tremendous benefits for our workers and our economy.”

The proposal was scheduled to be introduced to the full City Council later Monday. The council members can choose to adopt Gloria’s plan as an ordinance or place it on the November ballot — which is his preferred option.

Such a decision is not expected until next month.

Gloria contends that increasing compensation to the lowest-paid workers will increase the earning power of 220,000 San Diegans and stimulate the economy.

Business groups and small business owners, who plan to rally outside City Hall before the meeting, counter that a higher pay rate would force them to reduce their employees’ hours or raise prices and that raising the city’s minimum wage above those of the state would put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage.

California law specifies that workers make at least $8 an hour. The rate is due to climb to $9 next month and $10 in two years.

Gloria’s proposal would raise the minimum hourly wage in San Diego to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2016, and $11.50 on Jan. 1, 2017. Beginning in 2019, the pay rate would be indexed to inflation.

His proposal does not single out any types of businesses or organizations for exemptions. He did, however, say he was willing to consider a training wage that could be paid to teen employees who are seeking work experience.

Also not included is a different calculation for people who earn tips, such as restaurant workers. State law precludes tips from being factored into wage calculations, according to Gloria.

Introduction of the ballot proposal to the City Council will trigger the meet-and-confer process with the city’s labor unions.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

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