By Nadin Abbott
Photos by Nadin Abbott
July 5, 2012 (San Diego)– When the San Diego City Council spun off the Convention Center to the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CONVIS), labor leaders feared that CONVIS would try to maximize profits by getting around provisions such as the living wage ordinance. These fears came to fruition when item 5:8 of the contract “struck out the provision that SDCVB shall comply with the City of San Diego Living Wage ordinance.”
According to Lorena Gonzales, Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, “we must have a discussion on quality of life.” Gonzales also emphasized that workers on minimum wage are subsidized by the rest of us, since we have to pay for food stamps, section eight housing and Emergency Room visits, and turn over is higher as well.
What we need, Gonzales added, “are good jobs for all San Diegans.”
Clarine Crawford, one of the people behind the Living Wage Ordinance, pointed out that a family of four earning minimum wage will make $16,000 a year. This is a poverty wage, not allowing this family to have any quality of life. The Living Wage ordinance allows that same family to make $28,000 a year., allowing them “to live with some dignity.”
The Living Wage initiative has also improved services for the city, reduced absenteeism and turnover. This helps the employers as well.
The trends in the city are not good either. We have lost jobs that on average pay $62,000 a year, to be replaced by jobs that on average pay $49,000 a year. We have one in five children who live in poverty in the city of San Diego.
“Living wage is good public policy.” It is also an attempt to reverse bad trends, Crawford added.
For more information, go here.
Dion Dávila, a Convention Center worker, said that “I have seen the difference of a living wage and a minimum wage.” He added that the economy in San Diego relies on the service sector, and that “we cannot do this if we cannot afford the jobs.”
Dávila emphasized that the money spent at the Convention Center goes back to the community. At this point he said that the Convention Center “should benefit the community, not just hotel owners.”Dion Dávila, a Convention Center worker, said that “I have seen the difference of a living wage and a minimum wage.” He added that the economy in San Diego relies on the service sector, and that “we cannot do this if we cannot afford the jobs.”
Later on he told me that about 80% of the workforce is hispanic, and about 85% is minority. He added that CONVIS wants to bring more events like Comic-Con, since they do not have extensive food service. They want to move those events to hotels, and this means that people like him, who are waiters, will lose their jobs.
For example, the Center currently employes over 300 waiters, but during Comic-Con only 5% of them will work the event. If they manage to do this, the only employees that will remain “are those who only earn minimum wage.”
He added that he thinks this is a political move by management.