San Diego Business Journal

Minimum Wage Hike Opponents Start Referendum Campaign

By Lou Hirsh Friday, August 22, 2014

Opponents of an approved hike in San Diego’s minimum wage have begun circulating petitions to place the matter before voters, following City Council’s recent override of a mayoral veto.

Members of the San Diego Small Business Coalition said they have begun a referendum campaign to place the measure on a future ballot. The 3,500-member coalition includes operators of stores, restaurants, dry cleaners and other service businesses.

Coalition officials said the planned hikes amount to a 44 percent wage increase with automatic annual increases, which will place further burdens on small businesses following the state’s move last month to raise the minimum wage 12.5 percent.

Under the legislation passed in July by City Council, San Diego’s minimum wage will rise to $9.75 per hour in January 2015, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017. Additional wage increases tied to the local consumer price index are scheduled to begin in January 2019.

The city’s minimum wage is currently the California minimum, which went from $8 to $9 per hour July 1.

“This huge increase is not about dollars and cents, it’s about the impact on people’s lives,” the small business coalition said in a statement Aug. 21. “One of the consequences is the impact on various community non-profits serving our city.”

Opponents would need to collect 34,000 signatures by Sept. 17 to place the measure on a future municipal election ballot, most likely in June 2016. If enough signatures are gathered and certified, enforcement of the wage hikes would be postponed until voters make their decision.

The law passed by the San Diego City Council also requires employers to award full-time workers five days of sick leave annually starting in January 2015, with part-time workers earning prorated sick leave based on the number of hours they work.