Written by By Addie Morfoot, CNN
As of February 1, San Francisco will be the next city to increase its minimum wage, pushing it from $10 to $11 an hour — in line with similar increases by other major cities and states.
The bump will affect many more workers, however, since roughly 20% of San Francisco’s workers — or 180,000 employees — have yet to receive any increase, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce (SFCC) has said.
The chamber believes that the Labor Commission’s current calculation is too low for the hundreds of thousands of workers that the recommendation will affect. The SFCC claims the Lola Institute, an advocacy group that administers the wage study, did not include workers that received no increase in its calculations, or that have been moved to multiple cash wages.
The city’s official labor commission won’t talk specifics about the case because it is a pending court case.
“The labor commission provided no data or analysis to support its initial determination,” Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Lauren Moscone said in a statement.
“We have a long way to go,” SFCC President/CEO Don Gaudette told CNN Travel. “Not only does this measure protect good jobs, but it’s a good investment for the community and for the economy.”
Gaudette was the key to last year’s citywide drive to raise San Francisco’s minimum wage, which culminated in a referendum passing by the margins of 59% and 80% and giving the commission new power to set the wage floor — thanks to an amendment that he proposed.
In a letter sent to the city’s labor commission on Friday (January 12), Gaudette called for the wage to be raised to $15, citing “significant evidence and compelling testimony” in support of the hike.
Both men had already met prior to the court hearing to address the expected outcome of the case, according to Moscone.
Instead of focusing on benefits — the Lola Institute has said the city will gain economic growth as a result of raising the wage to $15 an hour — Gaudette has argued that economic development is the key issue.
“The Lola Institute and the Chamber of Commerce agree, by and large, that we need to have a living wage,” Gaudette wrote. “The question is what is the best way to do that?”
Raising minimum wage debates across the country
Gaudette has been involved in several large minimum wage campaigns, including past calls to increase wages in New York and Massachusetts. He participated in a referendum in 2011, for which he received a restraining order following a claim of threats and physical abuse.
The San Francisco suit comes amid a national debate over increased wage levels. California Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature passed a bill in 2017 that will expand California’s existing $10 minimum wage law to nearly all workers — covering 1.3 million by 2021.
The US as a whole has lagged behind in supporting wages.