Story and photo by Miriam Raftery
June 8, 2016 (San Diego) – By a resounding 63% to 37% margin, voters in the city of San Diego approved raising the minimum wage. The ballot initiative also mandates 40 hours of paid sick leave a year for full-time workers.
Proposition I will raise the minimum wage by 50 cents immediately, to $10.50 an hour as soon as the results are certified. Wages will rise to $11.50 on January 1, then increase with the federal consumer price index on Jan. 1, 2019, and annually thereafter.
“We’re thrilled about Prop I,” Mickey Kasperian, head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, told East County Magazine. “San Diego will be ahead of the state by two and a half years.”
Governor Jerry Brown signed a state law earlier this year to increase the minimum wage from $10 to $12 in January 2017, rising by a dollar a year up to $15 by 2022.
The governor could suspend increases during economic downturns, however, a provision that is not in the city’s measure. State law also does not provide the increases tied to inflation that the city measure provides.
San Diego’s City Council previously approved a minimum wage hike, but business groups opposed to the measure got signatures to initially block implementation and force a public vote. Voters have now made clear that they support higher wages and paid sick leave for San Diego’s lowest paid workers.
Rev. Shane Harris with the National Action Network in San Diego, which canvassed districts to get voters to the polls in support of the ballot initiative called the action “historic.” He added, “This is a big step, but we need to keep going until we get to $15 an hour.”