San Diego moves forward on minimum-wage increase

A supporter holds a sign promoting a movement to raise the minimum wage in San Diego, California, March 12, 2014.
A supporter holds a sign promoting a movement to raise the minimum wage in San Diego, California, March 12, 2014.
The fight to approve a federal minimum-wage increase is dead, at least this year. Polls show broad public support for an increase, but opposition from congressional Republicans is inflexible: GOP senators have already filibustered a Democratic plan and the GOP-led House has said the idea will not be considered.
But action away from Congress continues.

The San Diego City Council voted Monday to override the mayor's veto of a minimum wage increase -- setting the stage for another high-profile political fight between the Democrat-controlled council versus the Republican mayor and the business establishment. All six Democrats on the council voted to override the veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer; the two votes against the override were Republicans. A third Republican on the council was absent.... Under the council action, the minimum wage will increase in stages to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2017. Statewide, the minimum wage rose to $9 an hour on July 1.

The change is not yet certain. Almost immediately after the vote, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced a plan to put the issue on the citywide ballot through a petition drive. According to the L.A. Times report, opponents of the policy will have 30 days to collect 34,000 signatures.
Keep in mind, San Diego is no mid-size city. On the contrary, San Diego is by some measures the nation's eighth-largest city -- with a population over 1.3 million, this municipality is larger than nine states.
In other words, when a city of this size pushes its minimum wage to $11.50, it's a big deal.
As for the larger context, this news comes less than two months after some large private-sector retailers, including Ikea, announced plans to raise their minimum wage.
What's more, just in recent months, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont have approved minimum-wage increases, and the though the political circumstances are very different, even Michigan has agreed to do the same.
It's a political movement of sorts, but it's growing, Congress notwithstanding.