Despite apparent efforts by the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce to twist the potential effects of an increased minimum wage, the measure is now one step closer to reality. The San Jose City Council voted yesterday to study the fiscal impact of the issue, and several council members voiced their support for adopting the ordinance outright, avoiding a public vote.
Cindy Chavez, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council:
We are encouraged by the support not only for the wage increase, but also for the direction to make sure a fiscal impact study is fair and balanced. This measure is good for working families and will be good for our economy.
The Council directed city staff to include a memo from Council Member Donald Rocha to make sure council has a clear view of how the measure would affect workers and local businesses before they decide whether to adopt it or send it on to voters in November.
A number of supporters of the increase voiced their concern to the Council about a public survey sent out by the San Jose /Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce that required a deliberately negative answer to the question of how the measure would affect local businesses before it could be submitted. After those complaints aired, the survey was altered to allow other than negative answers.
Council Member Rocha requested that staff:
- Provide a breakdown of the demographic characteristics of low-wage workers who may be affected by the ordinance, including, where possible, the categories of ethnicity, gender and age;
- Provide information on the ability of workers earning the current California minimum wage rate to afford necessities such as food and housing;
- Review the potential economic benefits of establishing a minimum wage in addition to reviewing potential drawbacks;
- Consider drawing on San Francisco's minimum wage ordinance as a real-world example, and provide the Council with any studies or analyses of the San Francisco experience that may provide useful context.
In March, supporters collected more than 35,000 signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. The San Jose City Clerk’s office verified 19,500 names of San Jose voters signed to petitions supporting the measure. The initiative needed 19,161 signatures to qualify.
If passed into law, the minimum wage in San Jose would increase from $8 an hour to $10 an hour, allowing thousands of low wage workers a better opportunity to support themselves and their families. The increased minimum wage will also help stimulate economic activity in San Jose.
The San Jose City Council will consider the measure again on May 22, after staff has put together the fiscal impact study. At that time, the Council could decide to pass it directly into law, or allow voters to decide in November.