Plan to delay minimum-wage hike defeated | News | Mountain View Online |


Plan to delay minimum-wage hike defeated

McAlister's proposal finds no support on City Council for staying at $15 per hour

A plan to hit the pause button on Mountain View's minimum wage increase was swiftly shot down at the Tuesday, Dec. 4, City Council meeting. The proposal died without a motion that would have brought it to a vote.

It was discussion that harkened back to three years ago, when Mountain View was in the vanguard of Silicon Valley cities raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, an attempt to keep pace with the surging cost of living.

That 2015 push was hugely successful -- eight out of Santa Clara County's 15 cities pledged to gradually notch up their base wage. After reaching $15 an hour, all those cities committed to keep increasing the minimum pay by the cost of inflation.

Yet there was a problem for Mountain View and Sunnyvale: both cities were slightly ahead of the curve. As the first two cities to approve the plan, they scheduled their minimum wage to hit $15 an hour in 2018. Meanwhile, other cities decided to wait until 2019.

It was a situation that would leave Mountain View and Sunnyvale perpetually one year ahead of the six other cities, explained Councilman John McAlister. At the Tuesday meeting, he presented plans to postpone Mountain View's minimum wage increase for one year to align it with the rest.

"We've been talking about protecting small businesses. Well, here's an opportunity," he said. "Let's take a pause and then make sure that everyone else comes along."

In effect, McAlister's plan would call off the inflationary increase to raise the minimum wage to $15.65 an hour, scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1. Waiting one year would prevent Mountain View from becoming a higher wage "island," putting its small businesses at a disadvantage, he said. Faced with the same situation, Sunnyvale's city council decided to stay the course.

It was a plan that found no support among McAlister's colleagues on the Mountain View council and public in attendance. Several speakers pointed out the timing was last-minute, coming just a few weeks before the wage hike would take effect. In fact, city employees had already printed materials to announce the higher wages. Some opponents went further.

"I consider this wage theft, pure and simple. We promised something and then we're taking it away," said Mayor Lenny Siegel. "We have employers who can't hire people even at the minimum wage because it's so expensive to live here."

Speaking to the Voice, McAlister pointed out that Mountain View's minimum wage has increased more than 40 percent since the wage hikes were enacted. It's a breakneck pace of increase for small businesses, he said, especially when several nearby cities declined to enact any wage increases at all.

These South Bay cities are still paying a minimum wage of $10.50 an hour: Campbell, Gilroy, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill and Saratoga. At that wage, a full-time worker can expect to earn about $21,000 annually, which is well under the lowest poverty level for Santa Clara County.

Councilman Chris Clark expressed some sympathy for the idea that Santa Clara County cities should be consistent in setting base wages. It's bad policy to have a patchwork of different minimum wages across the South Bay, he said.

As the discussion tapered off, Clark was asked if he would second McAlister's motion to call off the minimum wage increase. He declined.

"This is not the hill I'm going to die on," Clark said.

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203 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Bummer. The last few "old guard" businesses downtown will probably be replaced with much more expensive places sooner than they would have. Queen House might turn into another Eureka. Not that anything is wrong with Eureka, but it's getting hard to find lunch for less than $25 downtown. In the end, we all pay for the minimum wage via the prices of our goods and services.

204 people like this
Posted by Too bad
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2018 at 3:20 pm

The City Council doesn’t care about the small business owner. McAlister is the only one looking out for them.

138 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

@ Resident is right-on. Remember how going out to lunch used to be a $10 thing and is now $15 - well, plan on it now being $15.65. No, not those exact numbers, but about the right proportions.
At least in Berkeley where this was done, they created a policy that since employees were being paid a better wage, a TIP was truly optional, like how it is in Europe.

406 people like this
Posted by Waverly Park
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 5, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Waverly Park is a registered user.

Socialist activist Lenny Siegel says "wage theft"? Sounds like an inflammatory union diatribe straight out of the union wars of the '30s. Fortunately, he'll be gone, and not too soon, back to somewhere like Berkeley hopefully.

4 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Slater
on Dec 5, 2018 at 9:56 pm

This would have been the wrong thing to do.b the policy is set and it would have hurt people who are planning on the extra money and must committee to MV to cater to the rich.

McAllister is just showing his greed again. I'm sure he wants to pay his ice-cream shop workers the minimum he can and then charge them the most he can for their rents. He and Chris Clarke do not represent good business tactics or what mountain view workers deserve. I can't wait to kick the rest of these council members out. Be the really bad ones are still there.

10 people like this
Posted by Tom Payne
a resident of Slater
on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:18 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

23 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 6, 2018 at 9:01 am

So this isn't the hill Chris Clark wants to die on? Good to know that he doesn't have the backbone to stand up to the SJW bullies on the city council. We will all pay for their "good intentions" because nobody is willing to stand up what makes sense. It does make voting easier next time though.

As you can tell from Lenny Siegel's inflammatory comments, bringing MV in line with other cities doesn't matter to him. He just wants to bring the hammer down on businesses and drive anyone small out of town. Too bad he failed Econ 101 and thinks what he wants trumps what the market will bear. Businesses will leave, then he will call the owners greedy and selfish because they have to earn enough to eat and live indoors.

I suggest that the last motion Lenny Siegel makes before he leaves office to rename the city. We can call it South Seattle because his short-sighted behavior will end up driving businesses out of town, if not out of business completely. I, for one, will not pay huge amounts to buy a hamburger, lunch or anything else and those people he thinks he's helping will be out of a job. Maybe Siegel has enough money to hand people a salary higher than their skills warrant, but not everyone can. Maybe he'd like to label them as greedy and selfish too.

I don't spend much in MV as it is. I will now be spending less. It is worth a drive to another town to avoid supporting such foolishness.

7 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2018 at 11:41 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

I like listening to PSR becasue he/she makes so much "sense".

It is good to see at least someone admitting their intent to make life miserable for anyone else other than themselves.

Imagine any business going out of business becasue of a 65 cent increase in hourly pay. It would appear that they are just hanging on by a thread.

Most businesses paying minimum wage do so in order to maximize profits. Just imagine the "real" return on investment they get from understaffed businesses expecting 3 time the productivity of a single worker. This is in fact the reality.

Fast food chains are putting up touch screens to eliminate cashiers. Smart phone apps are destroying custoer service workers. I am a great fan of I.T., but we are stepping off the cliff regarding the balance between the advantages of it versus the social destruction. The market cannot tolerate nothing but the loswest costs and the highest returns.

Thus there will be no balancing of the expectations of worker productivity and wage growth as proven in the last 30 years. Productivitiy is so high that one worker can easily do the work of 5 now, but their wages have declined with regards to the cost of living.

And by the way, the unemployment rate is so low becasue the baby boomers have retired. The worker to retired ratio is now about 2 people retired to one active worker. This is not a sign of good economics, it is a sign of economic disaster just coming around the corner.


2 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm

LOL is a registered user.

[Post removed due to poster being banned for repeated violations of terms of use]

5 people like this
Posted by Lector
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 29, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Lector is a registered user.

Minimum wage in Mountain View should have been raised along time ago. As cost of living goes up so should minimum wage. The demand for housing in Mountain View is very high. So it makes sense to raise the minimum wages of the service employees work in the community in order for them to afford housing close to work. That's only fair since that is what is being done for all of the Google employees. The city of Mountain View bends over backwards for the tech employees by approving all of the new development to house them. So to not give the rest of the community a fair chance at housing by raising minimum wage wouldn't be right.

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