Mountain View Voice

News - April 18, 2014

Campaign to raise MV's minimum wage heats up

by Daniel DeBolt

Local activists are organizing residents to speak to the City Council on Tuesday, April 22, in an effort to have the city's minimum wage increased.

Organizers of the effort are pointing to San Jose's success in raising its minimum wage from the state's $8 an hour to $10.15 an hour, and want Mountain View to follow suit, possibly going even higher.

"Silicon Valley has the highest per-capita number of millionaires and billionaires," said campaign organizer Meghan Fraley. "With that kind of economic situation we can afford to have a community where people who work hard are able to support themselves and have a fair shot. We all know that housing prices are skyrocketing and it's becoming more difficult for low-wage families to afford living here."

Fraley says the group wants the council to approve a minimum-wage increase, or at the very least put the question on the November ballot for voters to decide. The group is circulating a petition asking the council to "implement San Jose's successful model with a wage equal or higher than $10.15, index the wage to the cost of living, and implement the increase by January 1st, 2015." The petition can be found at ipetitions.com.

Considering the rents they have to pay, "people who make minimum wage have to struggle, myself included," said Mountain View resident Guadalupe Garcia, who works at Mountain View's Posh Bagel. "We have to live with other family members or have roommates. Right now I live with family members. They pay a lot of the rent. If it wasn't for them I would have to move out of Mountain View."

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, who supports the campaign, has said she'd like to see the minimum wage go to $15 an hour.

"There are a plurality of perspectives ranging from $10.15 to $15 an hour," Fraley said. "Some feel strongly $10.15 is not enough."

California's minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour in July and $10 in January, 2016, thanks to a bill signed into law late last year. But Fraley says that's "not enough for Mountain View; people just aren't getting by."

The owner of Mountain View's Pizza My Heart, Chuck Hammers, says he supports the increase after seeing how it seemed to help his five stores in San Jose, where he raised prices by 4 percent to cover San Jose's $2 wage increase. Sales at his San Jose locations are up 10 percent since then, and he saw that the increased pay reduced employee turnover and attracted employee transfers.

"There was a lot of bluster that higher wages meant the sky was falling. I stepped back and realized that as long as it is an even playing field, it's not going to affect us," Hammers recently told the Wall Street Journal, a statement he said he still felt to be adequate in an email to the Voice.

Philz Coffee has also supported San Jose's wage increase, while Starbucks has requested an exception from it.

The California Restaurant Association has opposed the increase in San Jose. It funded a survey of 163 San Jose restaurants, which it selected, that reportedly found that two-thirds raised prices to compensate for the increase, 42 percent cut jobs, and 45 percent cut employee hours. Other reports have suggested that restaurants near the edge of the city would struggle the most to absorb an increase if nearby restaurants in neighboring cities do not also have to implement a similar minimum-wage increase.

If Mountain View's minimum wage is to be higher than San Jose's it would compensate for the city's relatively expensive housing. Mountain View's median rent in 2013 was $2,239, compared with $2,062 for Santa Clara County, according to a city housing element report released this week. Working 40 hours a week on the current minimum wage will earn you $1,280 a month before taxes. That rises to $1,600 at $10 an hour.

"One thing that we're really advocating for is to have the minimum wage indexed to the cost of living," Fraley said. "We shouldn't have to do more campaigns just to keep the minimum wage at the same level, really."

To learn more about the campaign and sign a petition, visit politicallyinspired.wordpress.com/raisethewage

The April 22 council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on the second floor of City Hall at 500 Castro St.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Terry, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 18, 2014 at 9:08 am

An extra 200 dollar per month will not pay a landlord an extra 1,000 dollats per month (without 5 working tenants in the unit). Why is no one talking about RENT CONTROL?


Posted by Trickle Up, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 18, 2014 at 10:51 am

From my friend who owns a local business: "The more people walking around town with extra spending money, the better for me"


Posted by Landlord, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 18, 2014 at 10:57 am

@Terry
Why will somebody have a control over my income? Do you want somebody to put a ceiling over your income?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Oh, so people have to live where they work, huh? I didn't know that. In that case, can my boss give me a raise so that I can afford to live in Palo Alto?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:22 pm

So people have to live where they work, huh? I didn't know that. In that case, can my boss give me a raise that is indexed to home prices in Palo Alto so that I can live there?


Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

"From my friend who owns a local business: "The more people walking around town with extra spending money, the better for me" "

Would they love it if they employees?


Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

^
If they *had* employees


Posted by Trickle Up, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm

He has 4 employees but he said he moves them up off minimum once they show they're worth keeping around. He starts them at min. though...the idea is all thumbs up from him, even with some min wagers on the payroll. He's looking past the three employees at his shop and more at overall purchasing power of the area.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

"Council member Margaret Abe-Koga, who supports the campaign, has said she'd like to see the minimum wage go to $15 an hour."

I'm interested to know why the good council member settled on $15 rather than $20 or $25. How does one figure out the one right legal minimum price for an hour of a hypothetical person's labor?


Posted by Local, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Further to Greg Coladonato's point, why not make it $30 an hour, or $50? Then "everyone will be affluent."

That's the basic thinking of people like Tom Amiano when he was a SF Supervisor. As long as you don't look at all of the economic effects of a high-minimum-wage policy, but only the sides of it that you want to know about, it seems like a fine idea.

As Douglas Moran wrote on PA Online (in a different context), "Planning is so much easier and more fun if you don't have be constrained by facts."


Posted by I'm Not An Econ Major, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I'm not an Econ major but Mr. Hammers statements make no sense. Paying higher wages voluntarily and raising prices was always an option, which he refused to choose. Why is being forced by the govt to pay higher wages a better option? What works for him may not necessarily work for other small business owners. In any case, why does Mr. Hammer need to be told by govt how to run his business. Does he really think some bureaucrat knows better how to run his business?


Posted by Think, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Minimum wage law prevents slavery and sweat shops. Unfortunately, the hourly rate was not inflation indexed, so needs to be updated.


Posted by Help Hurts, a resident of Gemello
on Apr 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

I know of fast food workers that are hurt by minimum wage laws. Since the law does not apply to works who work less than 40 hours per week, their employer caps the number of hours they can work at 20 hours per week. They are then forced to have two jobs and coordinate that hassle, and the commuting and so fort. In some cases to guys have split the same to jobs to allow their employer to pay them less.

Minimum wage will not work until we make it apply to all hours worked.

All political systems are set up, such that the system gives more advantage to those already advantaged. Think about it, those with talant, education, social, political, or organizational power, or even good looks, are given a large share of advantages, be it higher education, more and better job options, or higher salary.

It seems to be the only way to get those with power and talent to give the rest of us anything at all.


Posted by HurtsHelp, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm

HelpHurts--your ignorance is painful to read.
"I know of fast food workers that are hurt by minimum wage laws. Since the law does not apply to works who work less than 40 hours per week, their employer caps the number of hours they can work at 20 hours per week."

Do you not understand anything? Minimum wage law applies no matter how many or few hours you work. Are you perhaps confused with healthcare benefits???? They are completely separate.






Posted by Double Standard?, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2014 at 8:47 am

Interestingly, on 4/22/14 the Mountain View City Council will be already discussing a (100%) wage increase ballot measure..... for themselves.

Proposed Ballot Language:

"Should the City of Mountain View amend Section 503 of the City Charter to limit the base salary of Councilmembers to $1,200 per month, with an annual adjustment based on CPI?"

Web Link=





Posted by myob, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Pizza My Heart's sales did not increase because they raised prices. The law of supply and demand, which is held to be true by economists from any background, disagrees. What happened is that the restaurant's sales increased due to other factors, despite the price going up. It could be that its customers aren't price sensitive, the local demand went up for some reason due to businesses moving in, or anything else that increased the local demand. It wasn't the minimum wage.

Minimum wage laws work by banning jobs which pay below the minimum. Some businesses can afford to increase wages, others don't have the margin and have to shut down, while others hire illegal help since they can't do it legally at a price that makes sense. If the future minimum wage is unknown, since it's indexed to the cost of living, then I guarantee that the cheaper restaurants and shops will shut down since they can't pass these costs onto customers. Yuppies might be willing to pay 10% more for their sushi dinner, but if the price of a gyro or burrito hits $10, then you're going to drive away customers, and these are the sorts of places which don't have the margins for higher wages. You will find lots of business support for increasing the minimum wage from businesses that pay more than the minimum wage, to prevent competition from their lower paying rivals.

I hope that Mountain View doesn't pass this law, and I hope that efforts instead address the astronomical cost of living.


Posted by dc, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

$15, I'm sure there will be plenty of non Mtn View residents that will love those jobs. Currently less than 5% of my professional co workers live in the town they work. But we do spend our dollars in Mtv View however after a 100% wage increase will will be spending it in Sunnyvale.


Posted by dc, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm

$15 I am sure there will be plenty of non Mtn View residents who will love the pay increase. Currently less than %5 of my co workers (professionals paid over $60/h) live in town. but we do spend money in Mtn View... more like Sunnyvale after a 100% pay increase.


Posted by DC, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm

$15 I am sure there will be plenty of non Mtn View residents who will love the pay increase. Currently less than %5 of my co workers (professionals paid over $60/h) live in town. but we do spend money in Mtn View... more like Sunnyvale after a 100% pay increase.


Posted by Din Bill, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

$15 I am sure there will be plenty of non Mtn View residents who will love the pay increase. Currently less than %5 of my co workers (professionals paid over $60/h) live in town. but we do spend money in Mtn View... more like Sunnyvale after a 100% pay increase.


Posted by No Comments, a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I cannot comment on %100 pay raise???


Posted by chad mazurek, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 23, 2014 at 12:54 am

ya they need to cuz im struggling at 10.15 an hr that would help big time


Posted by Ted, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Apr 26, 2014 at 4:35 am

Where is a story about what happened at the April 22 meeting?


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