San Jose minimum wage workers get hefty raise

March 11, 2013 5:04:38 PM PDT
Minimum wage workers in San Jose received a big raise Monday from $8 to $10 an hour. The 25 percent increase is the single biggest minimum wage increase in the country. San Jose is right behind San Francisco and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

An estimated 40,000 minimum wage workers will see their new pay raise starting Monday but along busy Stevens Creek Boulevard, people on the other side of the street are feeling envious because they work in Santa Clara.

For Edwin Cardoza, the grass truly is greener across the street. Over there in San Jose, the minimum wage is now $10 an hour. On his side, in Santa Clara, the car wash pays him $8. Stevens Creek Boulevard has become the great divide. "Just across the street over there it's San Jose and we're part of Santa Clara. It's like if only I worked two blocks down, I would make $10 but hey, what can we do?" Cesar Pinedo said.

To make things worse, Premier Car Wash also has a facility in San Jose where workers do get $10 an hour but employees in Santa Clara can't transfer there, so they still get $8. The manager admitted to ABC7 News that it's not fair for the Santa Clara workers when they do the same job for the same company. He also says San Jose's law helps people who work there but live elsewhere.

"They say that we're going to raise it because San Jose is more expensive, but it doesn't make any sense. Some people live in Santa Clara and they work in San Jose. So, that means they're going to make more money, but the rents are still the same, everywhere," he said.

There's also another twist to the new minimum wage. Landscape workers will be paid different rates depending how long they spend in San Jose during the course of a work day. "So, it becomes kind of a paperwork accounting nightmare, especially when you're working all over the Bay Area and having to have different rates," said Bayscape Landscape Management President Tom Ellington.

Ryan Walker just started working at The Starving Musician, a store on the Santa Clara side of Stevens Creek. While he likes the store and his co-workers, maybe the San Jose side looks more appealing. "If there was a music store across the street when I was applying for this job, I probably would have applied for that one," he said acknowledging that "$2 is nothing to sneeze at."

At the car wash, there has been talk that they may have to give everybody the raise to $10 minimum wage because they could end up facing morale problems or lose workers who are willing to take cross Stevens Creek Boulevard and work in San Jose.


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