Workers in a hundred cities across the nation, walked off the job as part of the “Fight For 15” campaign that’s demanding the minimum wage is increased to $15 dollars an hour.
“If wages had risen the same as the cost of living.” Said one supporter, “we’d be making like $20 dollars an hour.”
“I believe if you work full time you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” said San Diego interim Mayor Todd Gloria, who spoke at the protest. “As the child of a maid and gardener, I get it.”
According to the California Restaurant Association, restaurants employ 1 out of 12 people in the county and 52 thousand people in the city.
“There average weekly earnings are only $294 dollars,” said Peter Prownell, a researcher with the San Diego Policy Institute, adding, “ they make less than $16-thousand dollars.”
“I don’t think I could afford to move by myself and pay utilities and all that,” said one Wendy’s worker who walked the picket line, adding “or pay rent and food or transportation – its just too much.”
While most agree its time for a national discussion about raising the minimum wage – they don’t believe $15 dollars is reasonable.
“The minimum wage has been the same for about 40 years,” says SDSU professor of business, Dr. Lisa Haddock, adding, “it is time to have that discussion but how that fits in is very complicated.”
“I think it’s a delicate balance and I acknowledge that it comes with tradeoffs,” said Mayor Gloria, but he says, “workers are getting all of the downside and none of the upside.”
The trade-off depends on what side of the fence you sit. And the impact is vastly different.
“The person it is going to hurt is the customer,” said Dr. Haddock, “they would have to raise prices. I can’t see any other way.”
But Mayor Gloria counters, a wage increase would give workers more expendable income, “when workers have more money they spend more. I could argue it has the potential to expand jobs in the community.”