Below is a resolution passed unanimously by the San Francisco Labor Council on January 13, 2014 calling for a $15 minimum wage in San Francisco. Following the text of the resolution are the arguments that were used to support the resolution at the meeting.
Whereas, inequalities continue to grow with the top 1% now taking 95 percent of all new income (whereas in the Bush era they took 65 percent and in the Clinton era they took 45 percent); and
Whereas, the cost of living in San Francisco is one of the highest in the nation; and
Whereas, the San Francisco minimum wage of $10.74, which takes effect in January, 2014, is insufficient for a family to attain a decent standard of living in a city as expensive as San Francisco; and
Whereas, in California the lowest-income families pay the highest rate of state and local taxes while the richest 1 percent pay the lowest rate (California Budget Project); and
Whereas, the unions in the Seattle area recently campaigned for a ballot initiative mandating a $15 per hour minimum wage in a community outside Seattle, and the voters passed the proposition; and
Whereas, according to The New York Times, these unions view their success “as a potential model for raising wages and mobilizing workers in other parts of the country;” and
Whereas, the AFL-CIO has referred to the SeaTac action as a “victory” and reported approvingly that, “Now working family activists in Washington State are hoping to ride the success of the SeaTac vote to Seattle and they’ve found support from the mayor and the majority of City Council members”;
Therefore be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council go on record in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage in San Francisco; and
Be it Further Resolved the San Francisco Labor Council will oppose any minimum wage law that includes “tip credit”; and
And be it further resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council encourage its member unions to pass in their locals resolutions supporting a $15 per hour minimum wage in San Francisco;
And be it further resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council help organize a broad-based coalition of unions and community allies to spearhead a campaign to bring the $15 minimum wage to San Francisco.
Submitted by Ann Robertson, CFA; Alan Benjamin, OPEIU 3; Allan Fisher, AFT 2121; Rodger Scott, AFT 2121; Linda Ray, SEIU 1021; Kathy Setian, IFPTE 20; Carl Finamore, IAM Local 1781; Tom Lacey, OPEIU 3; Francesca Rosa, SEIU 1021
Rationale for the $15 an hour minimum wage:
- If it passes, the $15 minimum wage would be a good first step towards reining in the rapidly growing inequalities in wealth that are ravaging any semblance of democracy. As reported in The New York Times (April 12, 2013), the wealthy use their riches to lobby politicians for lower taxes and reduced regulation of their businesses, both of which produce more wealth for them. And then they use that new wealth to lobby again. That is why the article was called, “The Vicious Circle of Income Inequality,” although it should have been called “The Vicious Spiral of Income Inequality,” because the chasm keeps getting progressively wider. Money has usurped the democratic principle of majority rule and has resulted in such injustices as the inverted tax rates of California where the richest 1 percent pays a lower tax rate in state and local taxes than the poor.
- The call for a $15 minimum wage is sweeping the country. Workers at Walmart and fast food restaurants have been calling for it, SeaTac, a small community outside Seattle, passed it, and there is a movement underway in Seattle to pass it. Even The New York Times editorialized in favor of it. After asking the question whether $15 was too high, the editors responded: “Hardly. Over the last half-century, American workers have achieved productivity gains that can easily support a $15 an hour minimum wage. In fact, if the minimum wage had kept pace overtime with the average growth in productivity, it would be about $17 an hour.”
- San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country to live in. The Examiner recently reported that the middle class is vanishing. A $15 minimum wage would help prop up the middle class.
- Finally, a recent poll in California noted that union support has been declining. In March 2011 46 percent of likely voters believed unions did more good than harm while 35 percent believed they did more harm than good. However, in 2013 there was a sharp shift: 45 percent said that unions did more harm than good while only 40 percent supported unions. This is a very serious development. By mounting a vigorous campaign around a $15 minimum wage, we in organized labor can begin to win back support. We would be showing people that we do not just pursue our own narrow self-interests, because many of us make more than $15 an hour, but we champion the rights of all working people. In this way we could begin to revive the labor movement and once again become a strong voice for social justice.