Minimum Wage Goes to Council

Update: A motion to adopt a higher minimum wage than surrounding cities without seeking voter approval failed on an 8-3 vote. The San Jose City Council then voted unanimously to place the measure before voters in November. A successful signature-gathering drive qualified the measure for the ballot, and speakers packed the Council Chambers on Tuesday to speak eloquently on behalf of the working poor who are having trouble raising families and meeting Silicon Valley’s high living costs while working at the state’s minimum wage.

Our earlier report:

Mayor Chuck Reed wants a minimum wage proposal to go to voters rather than be acted upon by the San Jose City Council.

“When the proponents circulated their petitions, those petitions were titled, ‘INITIATIVE MEASURE TO BE SUBMITTED DIRECTLY TO THE VOTERS‘,” Reed said in a statement. “The signature gatherers didn’t say they were going to ask the City Council to skip the voters.”

The San Jose City Council will discuss the Minimum Wage Initiative item at today’s council meeting, sometime after 3:30pm. The proposal would raise the minimum hourly wage in San Jose from $8 to $10, with annual increases tied to the consumer price index. If the council adopts the ordinance, it would go into effect in 90 days rather than go to voters.

San Jose State University sociology students and activist organizations collected 36,000 signatures in five weeks to place the proposal to raise San Jose’s minimum wage on the ballot. The proposal is endorsed by San Jose Councilmembers Xavier Campos. Kansen Chu and Ash Kalra as well as Assemblymembers Bob Wieckowski, Paul Fong and Nora Campos.

The endorsements are listed on the Raise the Wage SJ website. The coalition lists its address as 2102 Almaden Road, Suite 107, the same office shared by Working Partnerships USA and the South Bay Labor Council.

Major business groups, such as the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and San Jose Downtown Association, oppose adopting the measure outright. They fear it would send a business-unfriendly message and drive companies to adjacent cities that have not adopted local minimum wage ordinances. Proponents cite a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which identified no detectable job loss from San Francisco’s minimum wage ordinance.

According to a statement by the mayor‘s office, “This ordinance was drafted outside San Jose’s normal process, which would normally include conducting outreach to impacted residents and businesses, holding public hearings, listening to the various stakeholders and taking their concerns into account, thoroughly analyzing policy options and working to reduce unintended consequences.”

The mayor’s memorandum.


  1. The cited study does not say anything about possible job losses. Is this article linking to the wrong study?

    Side note: there is a 1992 study (by Card and Krueger) of New Jersey and Pennsylvania that came to the conclusion that very small increases in the mimimum wage don’t produce lay-offs, but I think that’s a pretty controversial finding.

    • The minimum wage that passed in Santa Fe New Mexico that these kids like to site was also a dismall failure. You can google it. It was by a professor in economics but it doesn’t matter. It’s going to pass because the majority of people are ingnorant

  2. So what else is new? Business ALWAYS opposes raises to minimum wage. It cuts into their profit margin.

    Most big corporations pay less taxes than the working class too, but no one’s screaming about the inequality in that. They even get big tax breaks for outsourcing jobs. May be if they put American workers to work, stopped outsourcing jobs, and paid their fair share, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    It seems to me that the “trickle down” theory is just that, a theory…

  3. —“San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and San Jose Downtown Association, oppose adopting the measure outright. They fear it would send a business-unfriendly message and drive companies to adjacent cities that have not adopted local minimum wage ordinances.”—

    While I am in agreement with these organizations in my opposition to a raise in the minimum wage, I can’t help but observe that these so-called defenders of downtown commerce, in a demonstration of a colossal level of idiocy, are at the same time marching lockstep with the mayor as he pursues an agenda that will do more to damage San Jose’s business climate than could any raise in the minimum wage, by way of the ruination of this city’s police department. No surplus of cheap labor, no addition of glimmering towers, no snug little ballpark, and no amount of political will can save an inadequately policed business district from the tens of thousands of low-life troublemakers who live in and around this city. They will sniff out the absence of authority just as certainly as rats will catch the wind of an open pantry, and they will very quickly give downtown San Jose, as well as the city’s many satellite business districts, the same level of ambiance that has made downtown Oakland the dining and shopping mecca that it is today.

    The smug, stupid people running this city are very adept at reading political winds and peddling favors, but they have demonstrated an almost pathological disdain for the hard realities that underlie the essentials of managing a big city. The creation of safe pockets is one such essential; safe schools, safe business districts, safe entertainment venues, and even a few safe parks are absolute necessities in attracting and serving society’s most civil elements. Deprive the good folks of safety and they will, in order, deprive your business districts of their patronage, avoid your parks, take their children out of your schools, and, given the chance, move away from your city’s core, perhaps out of the city altogether. Who among us can deny that safety concerns have already become a significant factor in how we experience our own city?

    Picture Times Square today—bustling with tourists and trendy residents, and then remember what it looked like thirty years ago. The difference? Here’s the answer from William J. Stern, former head of the Urban Development Corporation, and overseer of a $2.6 billion dollar (1981 dollars) redevelopment scheme:

    —“The $2.6 billion 42nd Street Redevelopment Plan would extend tax-abatement deals to developers and direct them to transform Times Square by building grand office towers, a huge merchandise market, and a fancy hotel; by restoring historic theaters; and by revamping the dingy 42nd Street subway station. Also sponsoring the plan were Mayor Ed Koch and—unofficially but prominently—the New York Times, whose headquarters gave the square its name in 1905.
    But almost nothing we planned ever came to fruition. Instead, Times Square succeeded for reasons that had nothing to do with our building schemes and everything to do with government policy that, by fighting crime, cracking down on the sex industry, and cutting taxes—albeit only selectively—at last allowed the market to do its work and bring the area back to life.”—

    What worked was turning Times Square into a safe pocket. Public safety is job one. Had NYC had Chuck Reed at the helm instead of Rudy Giuliani Times Square would’ve beeen patrolled by two burnt-out, 60 year-old beat cops, and what is today that city’s cash cow would be as thriving with tourists as downtown Mogadishu.

  4. Seems this is the way of Chuck lately.  Lets send everything to the votes so they can say it was the will of the people.  Grow a pair and make a decision!  That is why we have a city council.

    Otherwise lets get a PO “volunteer” city council.  That way we can save millions every year on a worthless council and city manager.  Heck we could sell city hall and just hold town hall meetings at your unopened police station or a empty library.

  5. After viewing yesterday’s Council Meeting on this issue, I have a much better understanding of what is going on. It seems that this requested ordinance for an increase for minimum wage was submitted to the City with the understanding that it would go before the voters. Somehow it ended up before the Council for a vote to skip the 825 thousand dollar ballot in the Nov. election. The Mayor and Council stood firm in following the City’s process.

    Even though I fully support the minimum wage increase needed, and will vote YES on it in Nov., I completely understand what happened now, and why they left the Mayor and Council no choice but to do what they did.

    In short, the writers of the ordinance blew it. The way they wrote it, titled it, and tried to push it through was not in line with the City’s process, therefore the Mayor and Council were left no choice but to put it on the ballot at an enormous cost to tax payers. If this ordinance is passed in Nov., it would cost another 600 thousand plus to enforce, and would go into affect in March of next year. Something Mr. Hines left out of his article…Hum…

    Also, a professor from Berkeley very successfully disputed the studies the SJ Chamber of Commerce and other businesses are using to make their case. 

    One very interesting thing that happened during yesterday’s Council Meeting were the comments made by several Council Members. They are very concerned that once this ordinance goes to the voters, that the public would not be properly educated on the facts, and that this would turn into a political campaign to misinform voters and squash it’s chances of getting passed.

    If you have the time and want to properly educate yourselves on this issue, I strongly urge you to view yesterday’s Council Meeting.

    • A lot of short sighted people are living in a bubble on this post. Subsidized day cares for poor people to adult day care and in home supportive services have already received devastating state cuts. These cuts are to the poor and workers in this field make bout $9.00 to $10.00 per hour. With the yearly annual CPI increase and these services already struggling you can say goodbye to these services in our town. Service providers cannot afford to give raises and parents cannot dole out the extra cost to cover the wage increase. All these idiotc post about big corporation lose sight that most small business fail in their first year. Don’t you realize they won’t even open up here afte this ordinace passes? Un employment in our city for youths are already over 40%. Where is the common sense here? Low wages does nt translate into mistreating people. They already receive food stamps, rental assistance and for the vast majority, it is a temporary state in their lives. I started out at minimum wage and worked my way out of it. Thes kids want to force higher wages to help pay their tution. Thats what started all this.

  6. @dhkelly,

    The concerns of the business community were highlighted in the post and my comment directly addressed those concerns. If you failed to comprehend that then you’re not very smart; however, if you made the connection but decided to take a cheap shot anyway, well, then you’ve revealed something different about yourself. Who’s to say?

    As for my “support” of “six figure salaries for police officers,” please do us all a favor and point out where I included any such thing in my comment. Let me save you the trouble: it’s nowhere to be found. Now I suggest you spend that time searching for your lost credibility.

  7. Mayor Reed and his allies on the council are COWARDS. “Sending it to the voters…” Is Reed’s way of shirking the leadership quality he has pinned on himself.  He did it with Measures V, W, B and so many others.  These supposed leaders say they were elected to do the people’s will in the representative republic tradition is the USA. But that would mean that their records would be subject to scrutiny should they end up on the wrong side of a vote that fails in its application.  What did Thatcher say? “the absence of leadership is consensus.” she might have inserted “direct democracy” for leadership.

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