By Peter Jon Shuler/KQED News
In November, San Jose residents will vote on whether or not to become one of the few cities in the nation to raise its minimum wage above the state level. If approved, Measure D would raise the city’s minimum wage from the state floor of $8.00 an hour to $10.00. San Francisco has a similar ordinance on the books, currently mandating hourly pay of at least $10.24.
The roots of the initiative go back to San Jose State University students, who were struggling to make ends meet. Elisha St. Laurent is a behavioral science major and the single mom of a 5-year-old boy. She expects to graduate next June.
Alisha St. Laurent(left) signs a petition from Leila McCab (right) to raise San Jose's minimum wage at San Jose State. Photo by Peter Jon Shuler/KQED News
“I work at an electronics store and we make minimum wage there. So it’s definitely not an easy thing being a part-time employee and then a full-time student,” she says.
But many businesses have lined up against the measure, and opponents say they’re ready to spend more than a million dollars to defeat it.
That campaign has brought together some surprising allies. John Hogan is CEO of TeenForce, a non-profit group that helps foster-youth and other minors acquire work experience. So you might think he’d be in favor of raising their pay.
“Yeah, it’s probably ironic that I’m running a youth jobs program and I might be against this — which I am,” he says.
Hogan calls Measure D the wrong solution to a real problem. Although he thinks the minimum wage should be higher, he doesn’t believe it should be a a city-by-city decision. And he says it will create more obstacles for the kids his organization helps. Continue reading