Santa Clara County will consider bolstering its living wage policy to include not just higher pay, but adequate paid leave, benefits and hours.
A wage ordinance adopted in 2012 allows the county to selectively apply living wage rules. Supervisor Ken Yeager is asking his colleagues to support a revision that would make it standard for all county employees, contractors and anyone working for lessees of the county.
Unlike a minimum wage ordinance, like the one in San Jose that sets a base hourly pay of $10.10, living wage policies aren’t enacted by police or jurisdictional power. They’re a baseline that can make or break a deal with the county. A company wouldn’t secure a public contract unless its wages were up to par with county-set policy.
“Living wage ordinances utilize the public sector’s power as an employer, procurer, subsidy provider and lessor to improve economic equity and vitality by raising standards for jobs created or subsidized tax dollars,” Yeager writes in his memo up for review at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
San Jose established itself as an early leader in the living wage movement when it adopted a policy in 1998, giving it the highest wage rate in the nation at the time. The county established a weaker policy of its own 14 years later.
“The living wage ordinance discussed … would move from the above policy, which can be selectively applied, to create consistency in the definition and application of living wage in order to promote fairness and predictability for contractors seeking and choosing to do business with the county,” Yeager’s memo states.
Since the 1998 passage of a living wage ordinance in San Jose, the policy tool has evolved to address the complexity of how a person’s compensation affects economic security and the health of their family and community, Yeager notes.
Later policies have tried to cover not just wages but benefits, hours and job security. An ordinance passed in Oakland, for example, included sick leave. Yeager’s proposal borrows from similar policies adopted by various counties and cities throughout the state. It would also establish a voluntary living wage certification, which companies could apply for similar to a “green” certification.
- Supervisor Joe Simitian says the county needs better data security for its clients and employees.
- The drought’s still a thing—record-breakingly dry—and the county urges the public to cut water consumption by 20 percent.
- Supervisors will hear a report about the Sheriff’s Office extending help to the Valley Transportation Authority and the San Jose Police Department. Under tentative agreements, sheriff’s deputies would police VTA train stations and help SJPD with county-owned buildings in city limits.
- A 24-hour domestic violence hotline will cost the city $60,000 through 2015.
- “Genetic counseling” services for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center will cost $100,000 through next year. The money goes to the Silicon Valley Genetics Center, a clinical unit that helps some of the region’s most vulnerable populations by helping cancer patients and pregnant women carrying a baby diagnosed with a genetic defect.
- The county will expand psychiatry services at its homeless health clinic. A survey of 995 homeless patients of the clinic found that 35 percent suffer from depression, 17 percent from post-traumatic stress disorder and 16 percent with some other form of mental illness.
- The county will help the Fremont Union High School District secure $11 million in short-term loans to help with a budget shortfall.
- The Los Altos School District is in a similar bind and needs the county to secure $7 million in loans to help it get through the next budget cycle.
WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.299.5001