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Mayor threatens to veto minimum wage hike

Created: 01 August, 2014
Updated: 13 September, 2023
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4 min read

Kristin Kuriga of First Unitarian Universalist,  Reverend Gerald Brown of United African American Ministerial Action Council, Rabbi Laurie Coskey of Interfaith Center for Worker Justice and workers Jessie Thomas and Biviana Lagunas before meeting with San DIego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Kristin Kuriga of First Unitarian Universalist, Reverend Gerald Brown of United African American Ministerial Action Council, Rabbi Laurie Coskey of Interfaith Center for Worker Justice and workers Jessie Thomas and Biviana Lagunas before meeting with San DIego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

While many workers in San Diego are eagerly waiting for Mayor Kevin Faulconer to sign an ordinance approved by the city council, that would increase the minimum wage and give additional earned sick days to workers, the mayor stated this week that he will veto it.

“As Mayor, my job is to cultivate an atmosphere that creates economic opportunities and good-paying jobs for all San Diegans,” Faulconer announced on Monday, July 28th, hours before the city council again voted 6 to 3 in favor of the measure.

“This ordinance puts our job growth in jeopardy and will lead to higher prices and layoffs for San Diego families. I will veto this ordinance because we should be looking for ways to create more jobs, not putting up roadblocks to opportunities,” Faulconer said.

Faulconer has 10 business days to sign, veto or stay the measure.

Reactions to the mayor’s possible veto came quickly in social media, with workers’ organizations calling on Faulconer to reconsider his position.

“People’s lives are really going to be affected by this,” Rabbi Laurie Coskey, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, said in a statement released by Raise Up San Diego, a broad community coalition fighting to raise working conditions and wages for all San Diegans. “People living in such poverty, it is not right. We are a country and city of opportunity and if you work fulltime you should not be living in poverty. The mayor’s decision to veto the measure will take away $260 million dollars from the paychecks of hard working San Diegans,” Coskey said.

Biviana Lagunas, a San Diego State University student working to help provide for her family, said that Faulconer might live in a different reality.

“The Mayor doesn’t get it. He doesn’t live the reality of struggling to keep food on the table while paying the rent,” Lagunas said.

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Many business-owners and industry leaders are opposed to the minimum wage hike.

Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which has been very vocal against the ordinance, said that the increase in the minimum wage “will hurt working families, San Diego consumers, and employers. The Chamber is optimistic that Mayor Kevin Faulconer will veto the City Council’s minimum wage ordinance”.

Sanders said the Chamber is “sympathetic to people who are struggling to make ends meet, particularly in a national economy that is still recovering from a recession, but this is the wrong solution.”

The ordinance will allow workers in San Diego to earn 5 days of sick leave and will also raise minimum wage to $9.75 in January 2015, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017, and indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) starting January 1, 2019.

Councilmember Marti Emerald said approving the ordinance was the right thing to do.

“Workers will have more money in their pockets to better provide for themselves and their families, and when they are sick they will be able to stay home and rest instead of having to choose between going to work ill or losing a day’s pay,” she said.

Justice Overcoming Boundaries, an organization in favor of the ordinance, is encouraging all San Diegans to call Faulconer’s office asking him to sign the measure.

“We are asking folks to call the Mayor to encourage him to have a heart for San Diego’s work force and our local economy,” reads an email from Justice Overcoming Boundaries.

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If Faulconer vetoes the ordinance, there are enough city council votes to override the veto, workers’ organizations said Faulconer has it in his hands to make a difference in workers’ lives.

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