San Diegans had mixed reactions to a plan that will increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years.
Local business owners say it will cost jobs, and criticized the decision by legislators.
“I think it’s a sleezy, underhanded, back room deal,” said Anne Kinner, who owns Nautical Books in Point Loma.
But Elvis De La Cruz, who has been part of protest rallies calling for the increase, says the long fight has paid off.
“It will actually help businesses. When workers are happier with their wage, everything is going to be better for the business, and also for the workers,” said De La Cruz, who has worked at a Burger King restaurant for the last two years.
Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, released a statement criticizing the move.
“A $15 state minimum wage will have substantial negative effects on many businesses and will undoubtedly have similar impacts on workers. It’s unrealistic to think that businesses, particularly small businesses, just absorb these dramatic cost increases. If the impacts we’ve seen in Seattle are any indication, we can expect this policy to cost us jobs,” the statement read.
But San Diego city councilman Todd Gloria, who fought to raise the minimum wage, praised the policy.
“I commend the Governor, the legislature and advocates for working together to create this bold proposal for California. Today’s historic announcement by Governor Brown is an affirmation of the leadership San Diego showed when our City passed a measure for higher wages in 2014 to help working families make ends meet,” said Gloria.
The measure passed by the council, however, was overridden by an initiative drive by business leaders. A minimum wage increase was set to go to voters on the June 2016 ballot.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, the issue will still be on the ballot. However, any state increase would supersede a local increase. Voters would only be voting on a provision that calls for additional sick days.
Gloria noted that the local proposal would have raised the minimum wage in San Diego to $11.50 per hour on January 1, 2017. If enacted the state measure would not reach those wages until 2018.