Battle over wage and benefits - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - AM 760 KFMB

Battle over wage and benefits

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The push is on here in San Diego to raise the minimum wage, but how much should workers get paid per hour, and how will it impact local businesses?

Minimum wage in California is going up to $10 an hour in 2016, but here in San Diego the push is on to get more than that right now.

Council President Todd Gloria is leading the charge to get an initiative to voters in November. He wants more money for the lowest paid workers, but ask him how much money and that's where things get tricky.

"There are some who support $13, some who support $12. It really is within that range. There are actually folks far north of $15, they really want something more aggressive," Gloria said.

Economist Alan Gin agrees with Gloria on a minimum wage hike, because times have changed.

"A lot of the growth these days in San Diego is in the lower wage category -- leisure and hospitality, restaurants, retail, things like that -- and those tend to be lower paying jobs," Gin said.

And the majority of people taking those jobs aren't just high school kids looking to make a few bucks.

"A lot of people are trying to support a family with the minimum wage. Half of minimum wage workers nationwide are over 25, two-thirds are women," Gin said.

Many voters seem to agree.

"You should be able to work at minimum wage and be able to sustain yourself… an apartment, studio at least," one voter said.

But others see a downside.

"By raising minimum wage, you make everything else go up in price. It's not fair to business owners," another voter said.

Gloria agrees that a hike does no good if companies are forced to close their doors. So maybe, he says, there are trade-offs that can make everyone happy.

"The sidewalk café ordinance that was championed by council member Lori Zapf was passed into law. Fee deferral, map waivers and map extensions… these are the kinds of things the council has adopted at the request of industry because it was needed to help spur business, and we're game to do more," Gloria said.

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