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San Diego City Council votes to raise minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017

By Reuters
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 15:30 EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The San Diego City Council has given tentative approval to an ordinance raising the minimum wage in California’s second-largest city to $11.50 by 2017, and giving workers a chance to earn a paid sick leave benefit.

The council backed the measure on a 6-3 party-line vote Monday night, with Democrats supporting the increase and Republicans opposing it. A final vote on the measure has been set for July 28.

If it passes on second reading as expected, the wage hike ordinance would go into effect automatically after 10 business days unless the mayor, Republican Kevin Faulconer, vetoes it.

However, the council can override the veto on a 6-3 vote, the same majority that approved the bill on Monday, said Katie Keach, a spokeswoman for Council President Todd Gloria, a supporter of the measure.

Keach said the bill reflects a compromise negotiated by supporters with a number of small-business owners in the city, but the measure remains opposed by the local Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association.

The Center on Policy Initiatives estimates 279,000 workers would earn up to five days of paid sick leave under a provision of the bill.

California’s statewide minimum wage went up this month from $8 to $9 an hour, and is scheduled to climb to $10 an hour next July. California is one of 21 states with a higher minimum wage than the federal level, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour.

Under the San Diego measure, the hourly minimum wage in the eighth most-populous U.S. city would go to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, reach $10.50 a year later, and $11.50 by January 2017. Further increases starting Jan. 1, 2019, would be indexed to inflation.

The measure provides immediate pay raises for at least 172,000 workers in San Diego and for as many as 214,000 in 2017, according to an analysis by the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the University of California at Berkeley.

On average, the raises would add $1,400 to the annual pay of employees now at or slightly above minimum wage, with workers in fast-food and retail accounting for the bulk of beneficiaries.

San Diego is the latest among dozens of cities across the country moving to adopt so-called living wage ordinances since the first was instituted in Baltimore in 1994.

[Waitress via Shutterstock]

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