The battle over the local minimum wage in San Diego might drag on into 2016. Members of the Democratic-controlled City Council on Monday overrode the Republican mayor’s veto of a phased-in plan to boost the city’s minimum wage.
That means that minimum wage in California’s second-largest city would eventually rise to $11.50 per hour by 2017 after an initial boost to $9.75 for some workers in January 2015. California’s state minimum wage increased to $9 per hour in July.
WATCH: San Diego City Council overrides the mayor’s veto on the minimum-wage plan.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and some business interests in the city have opposed the minimum-wage legislation and they aren’t yet done fighting.
The fate of the local minimum wage could end up before voters in two years. Although it’s too late the qualify for this November’s ballot, opponents of a higher minimum wage, led by the San Diego Small Business Coalition, are gearing up to block implementation through a ballot referendum.
They will have 30 days to gather 33,866 signatures, according to the city clerk. That would place a referendum on the wage increase on a future ballot, either in the next citywide election in June 2016 or in a separate special election called by the City Council.
If the referendum is accepted by the city clerk, the minimum wage increase would be postponed until after a public vote.
Minimum-wage supporters organized by Raise Up San Diego are promoting their “Don’t Sign It” campaign in an attempt to sideline the proposed local referendum from making the ballot.
In an Aug. 8 statement announcing his veto, Faulconer said of the efforts to boost the minimum wage beyond the state’s minimum wage:
The timing and scope of this regulation willfully ignores recent legislation passed at the State Capitol. Local workers are already receiving a pay increase regardless of this ordinance; California workers will see a 25 percent raise over the next three years through a wage bill signed by Governor Brown. The City Council’s proposed ordinance will add an increase on top of that – resulting in a combined 44 percent increase just in San Diego, with annual escalations every year in perpetuity that go well beyond the state’s plan. This ordinance will create new costs unique to San Diego, jeopardizing small businesses and the hard working families they employ.
Two prominent local business leaders, Irwin Jacobs, the founding chairman of Qualcomm, and Manpower San Diego co-owner Mel Katz, have urged opponents of boosting the minimum wage to let the plan stand.
In a recent San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed, the two wrote:
We urge our local business community, let’s not delay, let’s not divide, and let’s not throw good money after bad. Please drop the referendum threat.
WATCH: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces his veto of the City Council’s approval of a plan to boost the local minimum-wage.