San Diego Union Tribune: Todd Gloria: Minimum-wage increase imposed by will of voters

Op-Ed By Todd Gloria
San Diego Union Tribune, Jan 12, 2017

... Almost two-thirds of San Diego voters supported a minimum-wage increase. And, more than 250,000 of our fellow San Diegans received a boost in pay. 

This decision by the voters demonstrated a recognition that decent wages foster stronger community and economy. Further, this decision publicly documented — by virtue of the ballot box — the overwhelming majority belief that no person who works full time should be forced to live in poverty. So, if any mandate was levied, it came from the residents of San Diego — the same people who patronize our local restaurants. ...

Having represented the urban core of the city of San Diego for more than eight years, it’s not lost upon me that our local businesses bring tremendous benefit to our city and form a cornerstone of our local economy. 

Given the high cost of living and rising expenses, it is understandable that restaurants and small businesses alike are concerned about the long-term impacts a higher minimum wage can cause.

To this, I would reference the documented experience from the Center on Policy Initiatives, UC Berkeley, and Wetzel’s Pretzels. 

The Center on Policy Initiatives, after studying similar increases across the country dating back 15 years, found “no significant negative effects on employment, employees’ hours, or number of businesses while prices barely budge and low-income families, especially those headed by women and people of color, are better able to meet their living expenses.” 

UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor Employment found that San Jose’s $2 increase in their minimum wage provided great benefit to restaurant workers and actually did not hurt business. In fact, profits remained constant.

As for Wetzel’s Pretzels, CEO Bill Phelps told CNBC this past March, “California raised the minimum wage in 2014 from $8 to $9. Our same-store sales were up 8 percent in the next six months.” Then, when California’s minimum wage reached $10, Phelps said his sales grew by 7 percent. 

So, the idea that a business cannot be successful with a higher minimum wage is false. 

The truth is: paying employees enough to live in their community is an essential component of any good business plan. ...

The fabric of San Diego and what makes our city truly great is the people who live here. As a community, we should value our workers enough to invest in them. If the passage of Proposition I is any indication, voters believe that we should. Now, it’s time for our businesses to do the same. 

Gloria, a California State Assemblymember, is a former San Diego City Councilmember, City Council President, and the author of the City of San Diego’s Minimum Wage and Earned Sick Leave Ordinance.

Read more

Copyright 2017 Todd Gloria

Share +