San Francisco voters to weigh $15 minimum wage


San Francisco minimum wage may soon be pushed to $15 an hour, the highest in the country, thanks to a November ballot measure introduced Tuesday at City Hall by a broad coalition of supporters.

The initiative, sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Jane Kim and a coalition of business and labor groups, would gradually raise the City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018.

Kim told SFBay no San Francisco worker should be left behind during this time of economic growth.

“San Francisco wages have not kept pace with the skyrocketing cost of living.  We have struggled with an ever-widening income gap that has made it difficult for employees to live where they work and support their families. San Francisco is once again setting the bar for workers’ rights and driving equitable economic growth.”

If approved in November, the initiative would increase the City’s minimum wage to $12.25 beginning May Day 2015, International Workers Day. Every July for the next three years it would increase again until it reached $15 an hour in 2018 at which point it would be pegged to the consumer price index.

The measure includes an exception for government-supported employees, but would apply the minimum wage mandate to in-home support service workers for the first time.

The compromise between the mayor, city supervisors and business and labor groups means labor activists will be dropping their competing initiative that would have increased minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017.

It also represents a political win for the mayor who has been pushing for a higher minimum wage since December.

Shaw San Liu, the spokesperson for the Campaign for a Fair Economy, told SFBay the increased minimum wage would help working families in San Francisco.

“This $15 minimum wage measure will put millions of dollars into workers’ wages, boosting local businesses and the economy. It is an important part of a larger agenda to close the income gap and ensure that working families can continue to live and thrive in our diverse city.”

Not everyone in the City agrees with the push to raise the minimum wage, however, and business leaders said the wage increase would hurt small businesses and the service industry especially restaurants the most.

If the initiative passes in November it would give San Francisco the highest minimum wage in the country. Seattle recently passed a bill increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021 and Chicago passed a non-binding advisory measure supporting the nationwide call for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

San Francisco’s minimum wage is currently $10.74 and is linked to the consumer price index and increases as it increases. The City last raised its minimum wage in 2003 when 60 percent of voters approved proposition L.

Meanwhile, the California State Senate recently passed a bill raising the state minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017 with annual adjustments for inflation beginning in 2018. The bill has been sent to the assembly for their consideration.

Mayor Ed Lee told SFBay the initiative would help San Francisco address income inequality.

“We are going to help our lowest paid workers by bringing a fair and responsible consensus measure to increase the minimum wage to voters.”

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