Mayor Faulconer said he will veto the minimum wage ordinance approved by the City Council. The Council has the vote to override the veto, but that could lead to a referendum. Photo credit: Americanprogressaction.org

Supporters of a proposal to raise the minimum wage in San Diego made a last-ditch plea to Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday to back them and forestall a potential referendum effort.

The meeting between Rabbi Laurie Coskey of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, three women who work for low pay, and Faulconer took place a few days before the City Council is to consider the proposal for a second time.

An ordinance that would raise the minimum wage in San Diego incrementally to $11.50 an hour, and require employers to offer five annual days of paid sick leave, was approved 6-3 by the council last week. It requires a second vote, however, which is scheduled for Monday.

Faulconer intends to veto the measure if its passed by the council again, according to mayoral spokesman Craig Gustafson. However, the six “yes” votes means the council would likely override the veto.

The result could lead to a referendum by the business community, which would have to collect enough signatures to force the City Council to repeal the pay hike or place the issue before voters. Business leaders have qualified two referendums in the past year.

Coskey said the mayor “was thoughtful” and listened to the women describe their circumstances.

“And still he said he was unable to support the ordinance, that he would be unwilling to sign it, because his main emphasis and his priority is for the growth of businesses in San Diego and he believed he was doing what was in the best interest of business growth,” Coskey said. “Additionally, he did not want San Diego to have a separate wage structure than the surrounding cities.”

Gustafson said the mayor listened to “passionate people” on both sides of the issue Friday.

“The mayor remains committed to providing economic opportunity and jobs for all San Diegans, which is why he doesn’t support putting San Diego at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring cities,” Gustafson said. “He remains opposed to this ordinance.”

If the ordinance goes into effect, it would increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 in January of 2016 and $11.50 in January of 2017. Beginning in January 2019, the pay scale will be indexed to inflation.

Council President Todd Gloria originally proposed to have 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 like restaurants and shops have already reported adjusting their workers’ hours or raising prices in response to an increase in the state minimum wage, which rose $1 to $9 an hour on July 1.

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

— City News Service

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