San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Friday vetoed the minimum wage increase approved by the City Council last month, saying the impact “falls squarely on the shoulders” of the city’s small businesses.
Flanked by eight owners of small, local businesses, Faulconer announced his decision at at press conference at City Hall.
“Today I’m vetoing the City Council’s wage ordinance because we need small businesses to thrive,” he said.
He said that while chain restaurants and stores won’t be hurt by the increase, small businesses don’t have the same flexibility or financial strength.
“They will face tough choices. They may have to lay some people off. They may have to raise prices,” he said.
Faulconer said he hopes the council will not override veto, and expects a referendum on the issue if it becomes law. The business community would have 30 days to collect enough signatures to add it to the ballot.
Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, applauded the veto and said the business community “is prepared to proceed as necessary to continue to fight the possible minimum wage increase.”
The ordinance calls for the local minimum wage to increase to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2016, and $11.50 on Jan. 1, 2017. After that, it would be indexed to inflation. The ordinance also requires five paid sick days.
Faulconer noted that under California law, the minimum wage has already increased from $8.00 established in 2008 to $9.00 effective July 1.
The Raise Up San Diego coalition and some business leaders criticized the veto, saying the mayor was taking away an opportunity for working families to improve their lives.
“Given the success San Jose has had with its minimum wage ordinance, I and a lot of other San Diego business people are surprised Mayor Faulconer vetoed ours,” said Mel Katz, executive officer of the local franchise of Manpower Inc.