“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country.”~ President Franklin D Roosevelt
It’s been the season of (talking about) minimum wage increases. Now it’s time to take action.
On Wednesday the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be discussing a proposal supported by Council President Todd Gloria. If the committee approves it will go to the full City Council. Then Council members will then decide whether to approve the wage hike or send it to the ballot for a public vote.
Local supporters of Gloria’s measure, led by Raise Up San Diego are calling for people to attend the committee hearing, slated for the 12th floor at city hall, Wednesday, June 11th from 9am til Noon. Over 200 people showed for an earlier hearing back in April. If you can’t attend, but wish to voice your support, you can send a letter to your councilpersons by clicking here.
San Diego’s “business as usual” coalition, fronted by Jerry “I know nothing about police corruption” Sanders, is taking a two pronged approach to defeat this measure. Last Thursday they released a rehash of conservative thought, calling it a study so the assembled media would take them seriously. Since they know public opinion backs a minimum wage increase, people associated with the Lincoln “We’re not really racists” Club are circulating petitions for a fraudulent initiative: 93% of all potentially eligible people would be exempted.
Arguments against raising the minimum wage have been recycled over the past 85 years, starting with the The Fair Labor Standards Act, which also established the policy of time and a half for overtime and banned most child labor. I’ll be sharing some of those arguments today in the form of quotes, culled from the National Employment Law Project / Cry Wolf Project.
“[The Fair Labor Standards Act} constitutes a step in the direction of communism, bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism.” ~ The National Association of Manufacturers, 1937
Congress has increased the minimum wage seven times since 1938, each time to a chorus of nearly identical predictions of economic catastrophe. Typically these prognostications include businesses being forced to close, consumer inflation, job loss and the notion that the people who are supposed to benefit from any increase will be harmed. San Diego’s reactionaries have been trotting out all of these arguments in recent days.
“The proposed jump from an hourly minimum of 40 to 65 cents at once and 70 and 75 cents in the following years is a reckless jolt to the economic system. Living standards instead of being improved would fall–probably to record lows.” — Rueben S. Haslam, The National Association of Manufacturers, 1945
California’s minimum wage will increase from $8.00 an hour to $9.00 an hour on July 1st, with a further increase to $10.00 an hour in January, 2016. Currently there is legislation already approved by the California Senate that would further increase the pay floor. I am skeptical about this legislation making it through the Assembly this week.
“I think the people who are proposing these things don’t know what they are talking about. It means economic chaos for the very people they are trying to help.” ~ Senator Barry Goldwater, 1955
Via the San Francisco Chronicle
– Calling last year’s minimum wage hike a good first step, the California Senate approved a measure Thursday that would further lift the pay floor to $13 an hour by 2017.
The bill by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, comes about a month before the state’s minimum wage is set to increase from $8 an hour to $9 in July as part of legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that also included another $1 per hour by 2016.
Leno’s SB 935 would override and increase the ladder raise as minimum wage would move to $11 in 2015, $12 in 2016 and $13 by 2017. Starting in 2018, the bill calls for additional adjustments annually for inflation. The bill is sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California and SEIU California State Council and is now headed to the stat Assembly for consideration.
An article in the New York Times today takes a look at who could be affected by President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage, noting that minimum wage increases could appear on the ballot in as many as 34 states this year.
Minimum-wage workers are older than they used to be. Their average age is 35, and 88 percent are at least 20 years old. Half are older than 30, and about a third are at least 40.
These patterns are somewhat new. In 1979, 27 percent of low-wage workers (those making $10.10 per hour or less in today’s dollars) were teenagers, compared with 12 percent in 2013, according to John Schmitt and Janelle Jones
They’re split fairly evenly between full-timers and part-timers.Most — 54 percent — work full-time schedules (at least 35 hours per week), and another 32 percent work at least half time (20-34 hours per week).
Many have kids. About one-quarter (27 percent) of these low-wage workers are parents, compared with 34 percent of all workers. In all, 19 percent of children in the United States have a parent who would benefit from the increase.
One in eight lives in a high-income household. About 12 percent of those who would gain from an increase to $10.10 live in households with incomes above $100,000. This group highlights the fact that the minimum wage is not nearly as well targeted toward poverty reduction as the earned-income tax credit, a wage subsidy whose receipt, unlike the minimum wage, is predicated on family income.
Still, a minimum-wage increase does much more to help low- and moderate-income households than any other groups. Households that make less than $20,000 receive 5 percent of the nation’s total earnings, for instance — but would receive 26 percent of the benefit from the proposed minimum-wage increase.
“The minimum wage has caused more misery and unemployment than anything since the Great Depression” ~ Gov. Ronald Reagan, Candidate for President of the United States 1980
An important part of the measure under consideration by the San Diego City Council is language establishing earned sick days for local employees. Similar statewide legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez
appears to be dying in the Senate. UPDATE: The Assemblywoman’s office says the bill is scheduled for a committee vote tomorrow morning and has not encountered any significant Democratic opposition. UT-San Diego ran an article about this bill back in January, calling it “paid sick leave,” a spin being used by opponents.
Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families don’t really exist. Congressman Tom Delay, 1996
Back in March Council President Gloria presented his rationale for the measure under consideration “Nobody should be forced to choose between losing a day’s pay and staying home to take care of a sick loved one, and nobody who works full time should live in poverty.”
“In fact, the impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire less people… We have a lot of history to prove that the minimum wage, raising the minimum wage does not grow the middle class.” ~ Sen. Marco Rubio, 2013
Stinky Shrimp for Sale
The Guardian newspaper has a report posted today about slavery in the Asian shrimp industry.
A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.
The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.
Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.
Doth They Protest Too Much in Mission Valley?
UT-San Diego president Mike Hodges emailed staffers at the Daily Fishwrap yesterday to reassure them following rumors about an impending sale.
Publisher Papa Doug Manchester posted a notice of the front page of today’s paper.
To our readers,
Let me set to rest the speculation that I have heard around town in recent weeks.
The U-T is not for sale. And while we are always willing to explore potential acquisitions, we have none to announce right now.
My goals as publisher are focused on San Diego. I have the highest confidence in our management team and my charge to them remains unchanged: Continue to build on the legacy of community service at this, the region’s oldest business.
Continue to innovate to find new ways to connect people to the information, insight and ideas that can truly make a difference in their lives.
We at the U-T are here to serve America’s finest city and do so with pride.
“Papa” Doug Manchester
Chairman and publisher
A San Diego GOP Non-Endorsement for Kashkari
Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari came to town last night, hoping to wow local Republicans with his optimism about defeating Jerry Brown in the fall elections.
Via UT-San Diego:
“Just look at Kevin Faulconer,” he said of San Diego’s mayor, elected in February on a jobs and neighborhood-improvement message. “He won a decisive victory, even though Democrats have a huge registration advantage in San Diego.”
Democrats have a similar registration advantage statewide — 43 percent compared to the Republican’s 28 percent of the electorate.
Faulconer’s win came in a low-turnout special election. Kashkari said success in November requires a big push from national GOP figures and a huge infusion of campaign cash to match the more than $20 million Brown is sitting on. Kashkari enters the general election campaign with a little over $1 million.
he Times of San Diego included one little detail that somehow got omitted from the UT story:
In his first major public appearance since finishing second in the June primary, Kashkari said Brown could “absolutely” be beaten in November if Republicans stay united.
His unity reference came only minutes after San Diego County Republican Chairman Tony Krvaric noted that the local GOP made no endorsement for governor.
“There was no consensus on the committee,” Krvaric told 200 people at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in Mission Valley. But he hailed Kashkari for getting 27.91 percent of the vote in San Diego County while winning 19.5 percent statewide. Brown won 54.4 percent of the statewide vote.
The story noted that Kashkari did receive a standing ovation. Nice consolation prize.
On This Day: 1776 – The Continental Congress appointed a committee to write a Declaration of Independence. 1937 – The mayor of Monroe, Mich. organized a vigilante mob of 1,400 armed with baseball bats and teargas to break the organizing picket line of 200 striking workers at Newton Steel. Eight workers are injured and hospitalized; sixteen cars were vandalized, five cars overturned, and eight more were dumped into a river. 1977 – Joe Strummer and Topper Headon of The Clash were arrested for painting the band’s name on a wall in London.
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I have two items to offer regarding the current “controversial” minimum wage increase. First, a recent quote from Barbara Ehrenreich. She has little sympathy for businesses who say they can’t afford to pay more than they now do:
“If you have people working for you who cannot make enough money to live on, you don’t have much of a business plan,” she said. “Your business plan is really exploiting other people.” Walton family, this means you.
Second, that old saw that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Seems that is exactly what the business community following Jerry Sanders is doing.
This too shall pass.
John Lawrence says
As long as the Democrats have a super majority on the City Council, they should be able to pass the minimum wage and sick leave measures. What’s the problem? If Faulconer vetoes them, the Council can override his veto They better get it done before the November election, however, since District 6 could go Republican and then they won’t be able to override Faulconer’s veto. The same goes for any other progressive measures like the plastic bag ban. Better get it done Democrats on the City Council while you still have a veto proof majority.