Minimum Wage Increase Headed to Ballot

San Diego City Council voted unanimously to let voters decide whether to raise the city’s minimum wage.

But it’s not as though they had much of a choice.

On Monday, the council voted on whether to put the matter on the ballot or rescind an ordinance that would have raised the minimum wage to $11.50 over the next three years, beginning in January.

That ordinance passed earlier this year, but it was met with immediate resistance from San Diego’s business community, which warned raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses.

The city clerk announced Monday it had verified 42,960 signatures gathered by opponents of the ordinance, known as the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage ordinance. A total of 33,866 verified signatures were needed to put the measure on the ballot.

Before Monday’s unanimous vote, Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders told the council to “fight for the city’s job creators.”

But a majority of council members criticized the signature gathering campaign, saying signature gatherers told voters misinformation.

“It’s disappointing that big business has used their money and misinformation to block thousands of San Diegans from receiving five sick days and a pay raise this January,” said Council President Todd Gloria.

Even though the council vote to send the issue to the ballot was unanimous, Councilmembers Lori Zapf and Scott Sherman spoke out against the original ordinance.

“I think the real shame is that a bunch of politicians are trying to convince you that you need us to be a success, all because they want your vote. That’s the only reason they’re doing this. They want your vote,” Sherman said.

The issue will be on the June 2016 ballot because that is the next available regularly scheduled election. It was too late for this November’s ballot.

Meanwhile, the city attorney asked for more time to clarify whether the results of the June 2016 ballot would be retroactive to January 2015 – when the ordinance was scheduled to go into effect – if in fact voters approve a minimum wage increase.

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