Highest Minimum Wage in the U.S. : FRISCO!
In 1982 I was a kid working at a fast food restaurant on Market Street earning 3.35 an hour—minimum wage. I quit that job to pursue my fortune in the world of dishwashing in a trendy SOMA restaurant. On my last day my supervisor assigned me to restock the walk-in freezer. Like a fool, I did it. I have permanent goose bumps from the experience. That restaurant is no longer on Market Street, but I am, as well as many low wage workers who subsidize the affluent on a daily basis. I think of that walk in freezer. I should have tossed my supervisor in there and locked the door. I still have chills thinking about it.
San Francisco’s minimum wage, as of Jan 1stis $10.24 an hour, up from $9.92. The city’s minimum wage is among the highest in the country thanks to the work of the Living Wage Coalition (http://www.livingwage-sf.org/) which began fighting for a Living Wage Law in 1998. The coalition joined with eight other organizations to form the Minimum Wage Coalition which successfully campaigned to pass a ballot initiative in November 2003 that established San Francisco’s Minimum Wage Ordinance. Karl Kramer of the coalition said it was important that the ordinance didn’t contain a “tip credit”, in which workers receiving tips would be paid sub-minimum wage.
The San Francisco minimum wage applies to all who work a minimum of 2 hours a week within the boundaries of San Francisco or at the San Francisco Airport. The minimum wage increases every January to keep up with the rate of inflation—as measured by the consumer price index, aka CPI —for the greater Bay Area.
$10.24 is above the $7.25 hr federal minimum wage and $8 hr. California wage. Critics of the ordinance say that it amounts to a job tax—using phrases such as “job killer” to stress the burden the minimum wage mandate would bring. Kramer cites a 2011 study by The Center for Economic and Policy Research (http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/wage-employment-impact-of-min-wage-three-cities) that analyzed the effects of citywide minimum wage increases in Washington, DC, Santa Fe and San Francisco—the first cities to pass minimum wage laws. The Study found no significant downsizing or business closings/relocations.
Another important ordinance is the “Minimum Compensation Ordinance” passed in 2000 in San Francisco. The ordinance requires city contractors and SF Airport tenants to pay their employees $12.06 and hour, up from $11.69 from last year. People enrolled in Calworks fall under this ordinance. However, the Human Services Agency is circumventing the intent of the ordinance by exploiting a loophole that allows non-profit organizations that receive city funds to defer the wage increase until the city pays for it. To date, Calworks participants make $11.03 an hour. According to Kramer, the ordinance helped security guards who were contracted to work San Francisco city buildings and the airport. Prior to the ordinance, guards earned $6.75 an hour with no health benefits. With the ordinance, guards earn more, get health benefits and 12 paid days off per year.
Thank you Living Wage Coalition for your hard work. Thank you for your fire and heart and persistence and for recognizing the important work of low-wage workers.
(For information on the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition, go to: www.livingwage-sf.org)