SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) – The minimum wage in San Diego will go up at the beginning of next year after the City Council approved the hike and a requirement that companies offer five earned sick days annually.By passing the increase directly, the council, by a 6-3 margin, skipped the original plan by council President Todd Gloria to put the issue to a public vote in November.
The ordinance will increase the hourly minimum wage to $9.75 on Jan. 1, $10.50 in January of 2016 and $11.50 in January of 2017. Beginning in January 2019, the pay scale will be indexed to inflation.
"I recognize this isn't without impact, and that's why we are phasing in the increase over a number of years," Gloria said.
Over three years, Gloria says this will raise wages for 200,000 San Diegans. A recent study shows San Diego's low-wage earners are mostly young, single Latinos or whites with limited education.
On Tuesday, Gloria said he hoped opponents of the pending hike woudn't fight the measure, calling it "a reasonable compromise."
"I can't help what special interests may choose to do to fight this particular measure," he said. "A couple of things come to mind -- I think there may be better ways that they can spend their time and their money than opposing a pay increase and providing sick leave to their employees," he said. "I also don't know that it's the best way to attract business to your hotel or your restaurant to spend money, telling everyone you want your employees to work while they are sick."
"We feel this is the right thing to do to take care of our employees," owner Jimbo Someck said.
But other businesses fear customers are going to pay more to keep workers working, or they're going to close shop and force workers to find other jobs.
"I will potentially need to cut some employees," said a business owner.
Minimum wage workers, like security guard Marcus Nichols, says he is homeless and works two jobs, "I'm not making enough money working both jobs, I'm struggling and I have to live in my car."
Past president for the Restaurant Association in San Diego and the Karl Strauss CEO says he supports the minimum wage hike but wants tipped employees to be exempt from the law.
"I am speaking again as a life-long registered democrat social liberal, let's do it so the money is really going to the people we are trying to help," said Carl Cramer.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has the authority to veto the minimum wage ordinance. His spokesperson would not say if he plans to veto it, but released this statement via e-mail:
"Mayor Faulconer believes San Diego thrives through its entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses that help everyday San Diegans put food on the table and provide for their families. As mayor, he is committed to helping San Diegans succeed and create opportunity. He has been very clear that he will not put the brakes on our recovering economy by placing a hindrance on local small businesses that will force them to cut jobs or hire fewer people. Mayor Faulconer is working to provide economic opportunity and jobs for all San Diegans, which is why he does not support this proposal."