Facts Matter. Invest in the Truth.
Help VOSD raise $100,000 in our spring campaign.

Donate

    This post has been updated.

    San Diego representatives loomed large Thursday as California legislators approved a bill to raise the minimum wage to a highest-in-the-nation $15 an hour by 2022.

    Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez aided the bill’s speedy march through the Capitol, marshaling it yesterday through the Appropriations Committee in her first test as head of that powerful body.

    Oceanside Republican Rocky Chavez, meanwhile, said the law contradicted the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, and warned it would send the state into economic ruin.

    The bill passed the Assembly on a 48-26 vote and moved immediately into the Senate, where it passed 26-12. Gov. Jerry Brown announced soon after he would sign it on Monday.

    Brown announced the measure earlier in the week after he and legislators behind the scenes crafted a compromise between two competing proposals, ensuring it won’t be on the November ballot and adding potential delays into the increase schedule if the economy falters.


    Help Us Raise $100k By the End of May

    “We have an opportunity in this state to show the country that putting more money in the hands of working poor people can make a difference,” said speaker emeritus Toni Atkins during the floor debate. “We are doing this to try to equalize the playing field.”

    Most Democrats were sanguine about the outcome prior to the vote, but Republicans staged strong opposition.

    Chavez warned the bill, “goes against the 13th Amendment,” which abolished slavery, by involving the government in the issue of pay, which he suggested is best left to the private sector.

    “(I)t’s clear that we do have inequality in the state of California,” said Chavez. But, “I’m going to go in a different direction … Just because there is a problem in society does it always require that government will be the solution to the problem?”

    Chavez said the legislature should focus on education if it wants to address economic inequality. He recommended the state invest in adult, technical and other educational programs rather than raise the minimum wage.

    “California will be on a road similar to the country of Greece,” he said, referring to the country’s recent economic meltdown.

    Atkins said a minimum wage increase isn’t a “panacea … but I think in the context of everything else we are trying to do for our constituents, it is a piece.”

    She also defended the state, saying it pursues business-friendly policies too, like economic investments in San Diego including the film tax credit and help for the aerospace industry.

    But Atkins said much of the issue for her came down to personal experience. She said her mother worked multiple minimum wage jobs when Atkins was young.

    “Today let me just say as someone who would have loved to spend more time with my mom and my dad…I think what we are doing is trying to help individuals who would like not to work two and three jobs.”

    Assemblywoman Shirley Weber gave a passionate speech centering on the idea that minimum wage for many is a lifelong wage, and one that doesn’t cover basic costs of food and shelter.

    “For a vast majority of people who live, work and die in minimum wage, this is it,” she said. “This is what they are going to make to support themselves and their families.”

    Gonzalez rejected arguments that minimum wage workers were largely entry-level and young employees who would be harmed by reduced jobs. She said 96 percent of minimum wage workers are adults, and often consider their jobs long-term rather than starting positions.

    “These are the careers of folks who live in my district,” she said. “People whose career is to serve hamburgers at McDonald’s or to clean toilets at a hotel … and people are proud of their work.”

    She dismissed concerns the bill moved through the legislature too fast, as many representatives said it was a “back room deal” made without input from the general legislator and without time to speak to constituents.

    “It’s OK that I didn’t sit at that table,” she said. “I can still say it’s a good deal.”

    During the packed hearing before her committee a day earlier, Gonzalez showed she intends to be a strong chairwoman, cutting off commentary when it went longer than her patience could stretch.

    That included urging Santee Assemblyman Brian Jones to wrap it up when he voiced his opposition to the bill.

    Jones, who brought his 16- and 20-year-old sons to the meeting, said the bill would hurt young workers like them because entry-level jobs would disappear under the higher wage.

    He called the bill a business killer for the state and questioned why it was moving forward so quickly.

    “We’re telling the economy what you can and cannot do,” he warned. “The point of this legislation is to help the people at the lowest economic level…how did you help those … who no longer have jobs?”

    A representative from the San Diego Chamber of Commerce also spoke against the bill.

      This article relates to: Economy, Minimum Wage

      Written by Anita Chabria

      Anita Chabria is a freelance writer in Sacramento covering politics and culture. Follow her at @chabriaa or reach her via email at anachabria@gmail.com.

      25 comments
      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      Its Easy to be righteous when you have no downside. I wonder if Atkins or Gonzales would be such zealots if they personally would suffer economically if this social experiment goes south.

      I doubt it.

      Walt Brewer
      Walt Brewer subscribermember

      Uncouple wages from productivity, and we wonder  why we can't compete in the global marketplace.

      John Smith
      John Smith

      If the government forces businesses to give you a raise then don't be surprised if you lose your job, or worse, can no longer work a minimum wage job because you now lack the business' minimum wage skills requirements.

      William Dickinson
      William Dickinson

      I own a small manufacturing company in a competitive business.  We are already reeling from the previous two minimum increases that came within a 24 month period.  I have laid off people, automated one machine and increased pricing.  We lost money last year for the first time in 40 years.  I pay myself less than I pay some of our employees.  The only way we will survive is do one of the following strategies: Move out of State to Mexico or Arizona or bring in more automation (if we can afford it), eliminate positions and raise prices or close our doors.  A $15.00 wage costs us $19.00 minimum when you add in Soc. Sec, Payroll taxes and Workers Comp Insurance.  This does not include medical, the IRA that we match etc.  This increase adds an additional $475,000 to our payroll.  Based on the size of our business, it is not feasible without major, painful changes which could mean loosing everything I have worked for in my life.  I would never have invested my blood, sweat and tears in our small business in California had I known what was going to happen.  It is simply too much, too fast.  

      KIm Carpender
      KIm Carpender subscriber

      This is progress but too slow.  2022 is still 6 years away.  By the time we get to 2022 $15 will still not be a living wage.  It equals $31,200 a year.  That is barely a living wage in 2016.  It won't be in 2022

      Bill Stoops
      Bill Stoops

      @KIm Carpender It is an improper use of government force to think that anyone has to pay someone else a "living wage", whatever that happens to be.  When you set a wage by law, you infringe on the rights of individuals to either have to offer that wage, and other people to possibly have to accept it.  No one owes someone else a "living wage".  That is for the individuals involved to decide.

      rhylton
      rhylton subscriber

      @KIm Carpender Six years hence, at the current 1% inflation rate, it will be worth 6% less; around $29328.00. Let us be thankful and not criticize too much.



      Robert Parkinson
      Robert Parkinson subscriber

      @rhylton @KIm Carpender  Current 1% inflation rate here? Whoever believes that is living in a bubble. Please include rent hikes before citing our rate of inflation because not paying escalating rents isn't an option for those of us shut out of home ownership.


      rhylton
      rhylton subscriber

      @Robert Parkinson @rhylton @KIm Carpender Dear Friends and acquaintances; Bubble or not, facts are stubborn things. Like you, I would like to ignore them but that would not be prudent. A search for Current U.S. Inflation rate produces a graph, as here:


      Robert Parkinson
      Robert Parkinson subscriber

      @rhylton @Robert Parkinson @KIm Carpender 

      How about a local graph? The cost of living isn't out of control in most of the nation as it is here. You might as well put up a graph of average U.S. temperatures in January and tell locals that graph represents San Diego's weather.

      Bill Stoops
      Bill Stoops

      Wage and price controls violate individual rights.  Government has no role in mandating what an employer can offer, nor an employee may accept, for labor in exchange for payment.  Same with the price one sets for whatever one owns.  Once the rights violation is somehow ignored or discounted, then the specious arguments about "equality" and "living wage" enter, which are non-issues in a free society, but are goals for destroying the rewards of hard work and independent effort while accepting the attendant responsibility for one's freely made choices.  Simply put, in a free society, should you dislike your situation, change it.

      ZachW
      ZachW subscriber

      There needs to be regulations in place to protect workers. You squawk about "individual rights" when in fact you really mean the rights of businesses like Wal Mart to do whatever they want. You must think Bangladesh has a lot of "individual rights" since business can pay people next to nothing, make them work in sub-standard conditions, and use child labor in sweatshops where their employers pay them so little they are basically held hostage and have no alternatives because businesses are allowed to pay next to nothing. If businesses are allowed to take advantage of workers, many will

      Bill Stoops
      Bill Stoops

      @ZachW So you think so little of your fellow man that they are incapable of making value oriented decisions in their best interest.  You think people have to be controlled...meaning in your lexicon "helped" or "protected"....I do not.  People are entirely capable of acting in their own best interests.  Government is appropriate to protect individual rights from threats or actions of force or fraud, but after that, nothing is warranted.  People do not have to work where they do not concur with the conditions and/or compensation.  Just quit.  Nobody is making those hundreds and maybe thousands of people apply to work at Walmart when they open a store.  You see any force being used?  I do not.

      ZachW
      ZachW subscriber

      Bill Stoops, the implication that corporations and businesses won't exploit workers to their own financial advantage is very naive

      Bill Stoops
      Bill Stoops

      @ZachW Then the employee quits.  No more exploitation...or do you think people prefer to be victims, and you must protect them from their own inability to make value oriented choices in their own best interest?  Do you think that little of your fellow man?

      ZachW
      ZachW subscriber

      Bill Stoops, you are welcome to disagree, but your repeat use of accusing me of "thinking little of my fellow man" because I favor a minimum wage increase proves the arguments you are making are very flimsy and you have to rely on this charge that I'm somehow against humanity to try and debunk the points I made. It's pretty absurd for you to say advocating for government regulations to avoid employers from taking advantage of employees amounts to disregard for fellow man. If it were up to you, based on your posts here, companies would be able to do whatever they want to their employees - discriminate, subject them to safety issues, underpay them, etc. THAT seems like disregard for your fellow humans. Your argument that employees can "just quit" is weak too. You can turn that around and say that if business owners don't like our laws they can choose not to do business here. Of course that hasn't happened in any large measure in Seattle where the mw has been $15 for awhile now.

      Elmer Walker
      Elmer Walker subscriber

      Raising the minimum wage this much sends a hazy message. Are we saying you don't have to finish high school, get a GED, go to trade school, attend a 2 or 4 year college, join the military or get on the ob training. We didn't even ask to have them work hard. Just show up, breath in and out and they will be taken care of. Seems to me we are slipping further ad further into socialism.

      ZachW
      ZachW subscriber

      What we're saying is the minimum wage should increase incrementally to keep pace with inflation, but since politicians tied to big business lobbies have obstructed small, logical, incremental increases, we now need a large increase to close the gap

      Fotis Tsimboukakis
      Fotis Tsimboukakis subscribermember

      Mr Chavez needs to read up on what brought Greece to it's knees. He is CLUELESS. Mr Jones is just a loser who used religion to get elected. He wants to give the state economic advice. Who? Mr Jones who failed to make his mortgage payments for 18+ months in his Santee condo, in 2012-13 and lost it to B of A. A $1200 mortgage while earning $129K as an Assemblyman (with per diems). Please. In 1977 when I came to this country, minimum wage was $2.65. If it had adjusted with the CPI it would be more than $15 now. Minimum wage laws, as most laws, are in the books to control that small number of bad people AND businessmen.    

      Paul McMeans
      Paul McMeans

      The proponents of this bill have ignored the basic principles of how free markets work . In economic terms labor is essentially a product. the product is sold to potential employers. Employers will pay the amount necessary to induce potential workers to come and provide the product i.e. their labor. When governments intervene and sent mandatory minimums higher than what the market would require the natural consequence is for the amount that employers will purchase will decline. The natural consequence of this legislation will be to increase unemployment.

      Rick Smith
      Rick Smith subscriber

      @Paul McMeans  Or it might increase the purchasing power of consumers, who would then spend, and increase demand for products, which then might increase the demand for workers.

      Most studies show minimal correlation between minimum wage increases and increased unemployment.  Too many other factors in play.

      ZachW
      ZachW subscriber

      People like you who advocate no government regulations on businesses are what gives society things like welfare to close living wage gaps, poverty, corporate monopolies, and in extreme cases tragedies like Bangladesh's Rana Plaza. Let's strip all government regulations so the "free" market can work - no health inspections for restaurants, no minimum safety requirements for workplaces, no paid sick leave that forces sick people to come to work putting themselves and others at peril, no child labor laws - and the list goes on. The idiots who use minimum wage as a general argument saying the government should not be regulating business should really stop and think about all the aspects that are regulated before making such a sweeping argument

      B J
      B J subscriber

      We are a representative democracy, not a free market capitalist country.   Capitalism is not a substitute for government and social policy.

      B J
      B J subscriber

      Naysayers have been trumpeting the downfall of business since the minimum wage was introduced.  We're still waiting...