An effort to get a minimum wage increase and earned sick leave on the November ballot has passed its next step in the San Diego City Council.
On Monday, the council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Regulations Committee (ED & IR) voted 2 to 1 to draft an ordinance for consideration by the committee. The City Attorney’s Office and Council President’s Office will write that proposal.
The measures would include an increase of minimum wage for everyone working full-time within the city, access to five days of earned sick leave, a cost of living index attached to the minimum wage (to be updated annually) and a phase-in period that would allow small businesses and non-profits to implement the measures more slowly.
"Think about this: When you pay your employees wages that are too low, they wind up relying on social services,” said North Park resident Jeff Olsen. “ If you're really going to walk the walk about getting people off welfare and back to work, then this is the way to do it."
Council President Todd Gloria spoke in favor of a wage hike at the committee’s meeting Monday.
He cited an Institute of Women’s Policy Research study that shows a single San Diegan with no dependents needs to make at least $13.09 full-time, year-round to live.
No specific minimum wage has been proposed yet. The state’s current wage will go to $9 an hour in July, and then rise to $10 in 2016.
Business groups challenged the proponents’ research and warned that added costs would discourage hiring and put San Diego at a competitive disadvantage.
"Small business work on 3 to 4 percent margins. The stores I represent -- we're not Wal-Mart or Target. We don't have billions of dollars in the bank. We barely make it every day," said Mark Arabo with the Neighborhood Market Association.
The ED & IR is expected to consider the draft ordinance at its April 30 meeting. If passed, the full city council will need to approve it in order for the measure to be placed on the general election Nov. 4 ballot.