A city councilman who authored a law to raise the minimum wage in San Diego, only to see it forced to an election ballot by opponents, vowed to continue his campaign despite a state agreement announced Monday to incrementally hike pay to at least $15 an hour.
Councilman Todd Gloria pointed to a couple of differences between the deal reached in Sacramento between state officials and organized labor, and the ordinance envisioned for San Diego.
Gloria’s plan, which will go before voters in the June primary election, would raise the minimum wage in San Diego to $10.50 an hour almost immediately, and bump it to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1 of next year. Proposition I would also provide workers the ability to accrue up to five paid sick days a year.
It was approved by the City Council two years ago, but opponents in the business community collected enough petition signatures to place the issue before voters. The June election is the first since then.
It would take a few years for wages under the state agreement to reach his proposed amount in San Diego, and the agreement does not call for five paid sick days, Gloria said. The state currently requires that employers provide three sick days that workers can earn over time.
“Workers are in need of these wages now and it is important that we secure a local increase in order to help San Diegans pay for rent, food and other everyday household expenses,” Gloria said.
He said the state announcement was “an affirmation of the leadership San Diego showed” with the original, aborted passage of the minimum wage increase.
Jason Roe, who led the opposition to the wage hike in San Diego, said the automatic pay increases and sick leave proposals in Gloria’s proposition go beyond the state plans and would “have a pretty severe impact” on small businesses.
“This proposal makes it really difficult for small businesses to survive in this state, which is already the highest taxed state in the country,” Roe said.
Under the state plan, hourly pay would rise to $10.50 on New Year’s Day, $11 in 2018, $12 in 2019, and so on until $15 in 2022. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would receive an extra year to phase-in each step of the increase.
The governor will also have the power to postpone a hike in case of negative budgetary or economic conditions.
“California is proving once again that it can get things done and help people get ahead,” Gov. Jerry Brown said. “This plan raises the minimum wage in a careful and responsible way and provides some flexibility if economic and budgetary conditions change.”
The state’s minimum wage is currently $10 an hour.
—City News Service
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