That’s the question to be answered after a measure was adopted July 15 by San Diego City Council, which plans to boost the city’s minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015, $10.50 in 2016 and to $11.50 in 2017.
The new ordinance would also require employers to provide five paid sick days a year. Council has voted to direct staff to begin conferring with the city's labor unions as to the methods under which the wage will be raised.
City Council President Todd Gloria, who spearheaded the push for the minimum-wage increase, characterized it as “a reasonable compromise.” Gloria had originally proposed that the wage be $13.09 an hour.
Gloria warned possible opponents of the wage hike that “there may be better ways that they can spend their time and money than opposing a pay increase to their employees … or by telling everyone you want your employees to work while they are sick.''
The vote on the minimum-wage hike went along party lines, 6-3, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, led by recent past Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders, have opposed the wage increase.
“I feel the deal we reached on minimum wage was a fair compromise,” concluded District 2 Councilman Ed Harris. “I’ve seen the research and data that points to the positive impacts of raising the minimum wage and providing earned sick leave.
“By paying a livable wage, we can help avoid paying higher social service costs, and by providing earned sick leave, we support higher employee productivity in the long term.
“I don’t know how people living in San Diego can make ends meet on $1,560 a month,” continued Harris, noting, that “That’s what a full-time minimum-wage earner makes at the current rate of $9 an hour.”
$9 an hour, the state's minimum wage law, went into effect July 1.
Supporters of the new minimum wage argue the pay increase helps the impoverished without hurting the local economy. Detractors counter that a higher minimum wage puts employers at a competitive disadvantage, causing them to hire fewer employees, thus hurting the segment of the population that the city is attempting to help.