Voters approve SJ minimum wage hike

November 7, 2012 7:49:53 PM PST
Tens of thousands of workers in San Jose will soon be getting a pay raise, thanks to voters approving Measure D. It passed overwhelming, with 59 percent of the vote. It will raise minimum wage in the city to $10 an hour. Workers have some San Jose State students to thank for their pay raise.

San Jose becomes only the second city in the state to set its own minimum wage, following the lead of San Francisco. In January it all started when a group of sociology students at San Jose State University launched the idea of increasing the city's minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour.

"It wasn't easy. It was us fighting for, if we work hard and play by the rules we should get the fair wage we deserve and that's what people in our community need and that's what we did," said Elisha St. Laurent, a student leader.

The Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and many business leaders fought to defeat Measure D, claiming it could result in thousands of job losses.

Fourth Street Pizza Company has about two dozen employees. The owners say they will have to make some adjustments to cover the 25 percent increase in payroll costs.

"No layoffs or anything like that, but we will have to consider some price increases. They'll be small," said Richard Daly from the 4th Street Pizza Company.

San Jose's mayor also opposed the measure and says the voter approved initiative will have consequences on the city's already tight budget.

"The city will have to spend about $600,000 to implement it because we're required to set up an auditing function to make sure people follow the law," said Mayor Chuck Reed.

Many voters told us they agreed with the students, raising the minimum wage in a high cost of living area is the right thing to do. An estimated 40,000 minimum wage employees from restaurant workers to retail clerks will benefit. The professor who supported the effort says the successful campaign is already getting state and nationwide attention.

"It's about San Jose, but it's about a larger question about economic equality in the Bay Area and beyond. This affects all of America," said SJSU professor Scott Myers-Lipton.

The minimum wage hike goes into effect 90 days after election results become official, so probably in March.


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