City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Act of 2014 Initiative (November 2014)
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will not appear on a ballot
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Due to a compromise orchestrated by Mayor Ed Lee, the union backed coalition behind this initiative agreed to drop its measure and, instead, threw its support behind the measure referred to the ballot by the city council, which was designed to increase the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
If approved, this initiative would have imposed phased increases to the minimum wage in the city for all workers, including part-time, temporary, contract and full time employees. For companies employing less than 100 workers, the minimum wage would increase to:
- $13 per hour by 2015
- $14 per hour by 2016
- $15 per hour by 2017
For companies with more than 100 workers, the minimum wage would have had to be raised to:
- $13 per hour by the end of 2014
- $15 per hour by 2016
The measure, which was designed by a coalition of groups that included the union SEIU Local 1021 and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, also sought to establish an Employment Standards Oversight Committee responsible for ensuring the enforcement of the new minimum wage law. The seven-member committee would have consisted of four members appointed by the Board of Supervisors and three by the mayor.
As of June 2014, San Francisco's minimum wage would was $10.74 per hour.
Mayor Ed Lee announced that he is in favor of a minimum wage increase, but he worked with the coalition behind the Minimum Wage Act of 2014 and business interests to come up with a compromise measures. In the mayor's state of the city address in January, Lee proposed putting his own ballot measure on the November election ballot to increase the minimum wage in the city. This could have led to situation in which voters saw two competing measures on the November ballot, both seeking to raise the minimum wage. Through a compromise, however, the union backed coalition withdrew its initiative measure and threw its support behind the measure referred by the city council. Mayor Lee said, “There’s a growing consensus among liberals and conservatives alike that raising the minimum wage will help lift thousands of our fellow residents out of poverty and keep people off public assistance, saving taxpayers millions.”
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce expressed strong disapproval of the initiative proposed by the SEIU. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Bob Linscheid said that the proposal contradicts the collaboration and teamwork that Mayor Lee was trying to accomplish with his approach to a minimum wage increase. Linscheid said, “This initiative is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to influence the outcome of the consensus-building process that will begin this week under the leadership of Mayor Ed Lee.”
In response to the criticisms of the Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Chris Daly, who was the political director for the SEIU union, said, “We’ve been working on this measure for months and months. As far as they know, we’ve addressed every one of their concerns.”
The group spearheading the petition drive is called the Coalition for the Fair Economy.
The initiative was designed by and is supported by a coalition of groups including, the SEIU Local 1021 union and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. The San Francisco Progressive Workers Alliance also supports the initiative.
Arguments in favor
Supporters of the initiative argue that the cost of living is too high in San Francisco to allow people to survive on a wage of between $10 and $11 per hour and that a minimum wage increase is essential for the well being of low wage workers. They also argue that the increase would be good for the city as a whole, since workers who earned more would turn around and spend more at city businesses, boosting the economy all around.
Shaw Sun Liu, speaking for the San Francisco Progressive Workers Alliance, said, "This is about lifting up everybody in the community, not just low-wage workers. When low-income people have more money, they will spend it in the community, helping small businesses and everybody."
- Golden Gate Restaurant Association
- San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance
- Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchant Associations, said, "Most small businesses in the city would oppose it. Thirteen (dollars an hour) they could tolerate, maybe, but more in the range of $11 or $12 an hour."
- The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this initiative and is, instead, supporting the efforts of Mayor Lee on what could be a competing measure on the November election ballot.
Some opponents of the initiative believe a minimum wage increase of any kind would kill jobs, increase unemployment and put companies at risk of going out of business. Others support a minimum wage boost, but think the proposed rate of $15 per hour is too high and could cause serious harm to small businesses. Opponents point out that the minimum wage increase is going to result in wage increases for everyone, not just minimum wage workers.
Michael Tucker, owner of Books Inc., said that the nearly 40 percent increase in the minimum wage proposed by the initiative would add up to $500,000 per year to his cost of operation. He expressed concerns that this would force him to fire people or close one of his six stores. Tucker said, "You can't put us in the same league as Walmart or the dot-coms." He also stated that he would be forced to raise wages for all his workers, saying, "Supervisors are not going to want to be paid (the same) as the people they're supervising."
Karp of Cole Hardware, who owns four stores and employs 105 workers, pays all of his workers at least $12 per hour and said that increasing this rate to $15 per hour would cost him about $400,000 per year. He said, "I know, for one thing, there would be a hiring freeze immediately."
Hut Landon, executive director of the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance, pointed out that small business cannot simply raise prices to cover wage increases because they are competing with large companies and online shopping. He said, "This notion that you can just pass on the cost to the consumer isn't feasible in this day and age of people shopping online." He also criticized one the chief argument of initiative proponents, saying, "How is a $15-an-hour minimum wage going to solve the housing crisis?"
The San Francisco Chronicle obtained a poll showing solid support for a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour among city voters:
|San Francisco $15 per hour Minimum Wage|
|Poll||Support||Oppose||Undecided||Margin of Error||Sample Size|
|Poll on $15 per hour minimum wage in San Francisco|
|Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to|
Path to the ballot
On April 7, 2014, the Coalition for the Fair Economy submitted their minimum wage initiative ballot measure to the city clerk. Once the content and from of the proposed initiative is approved and petition forms are printed, the coalition needed to collect signatures from registered city voters equal to five percent of votes cast for all candidates in the last mayoral election by a July 7, 2014, deadline to qualify its initiative for the November ballot. In 2011, 271,110 votes were cast in the mayoral election, which meant the coalition needed to collect at least 13,556 valid signatures for a successful petition drive. On June 10, 2014, the San Francisco City Council approved a compromise minimum wage measure for the ballot. Once that measure was put on the ballot, the coalition behind the Minimum Wage Act of 2014 Initiative dropped its efforts.
Initiative features in the city and county of San Francisco:
San Francisco has its own initiative process for ordinances determined by the city charter. The state process (see above for details) is applicable wherever the city is silent. The signature requirements are five percent of the votes cast for all candidates for mayor in the last preceding general municipal election for mayor. Circulators must comply with the relevant code regarding identification. The pre-approval process includes registration and publication of the intention to circulate in a newspaper. Otherwise the process is governed by California Election Code.
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City of Seattle $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Initiative (November 2014)
City of San Francisco Minimum Wage Act of 2014 Initiative (November 2014)
Philadelphia Minimum Wage Ordinance, Proposition 1 (May 2014)
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City of Richmond Minimum Wage Increase Ballot Question (November 2014)
- Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)
- Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- South Dakota Increased Minimum Wage, Initiated Measure 18 (2014)
California Minimum Wage Supplement for Home Health Workers (2014)
Idaho Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (2014)
Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
New Mexico Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)
- Notable local measures on the ballot
- Local minimum wage measures in 2014
- San Francisco City and County, California ballot measures
- November 4, 2014 ballot measures in California
- San Francisco Business Times, "San Francisco chamber ‘outraged’ by $15 minimum wage ballot measure," April 7, 2014
- The San Francisco Examiner, "Alternative ballot measure considered as labor union pushes effort to raise SF minimum wage," May 5, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "S.F. to put $15 minimum wage on ballot," June 11, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "Minimum-wage measure could make S.F. ballot," April 5, 2014
- CBS San Francisco Bay Area, "San Francisco Labor Activists Seek $15/Hour Minimum Wage By 2017," April 7, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "San Francisco could be headed for dueling minimum wage ballot measures," April 7, 2014
- SocialistWorker.org, "Ready to raise the floor in SF," April 16, 2014
- San Francisco Chronicle online, "Thumbs up for 15 an hour minimum wage in new poll," March 16, 2014
- League of Women Voters of the California Education Fund, San Francisco County Ballot, November 8, 2011, election results, accessed April 21, 2014