The city of San Diego’s living-wage law has added 25 percent to the costs of city contracts, marginally higher than the 21 percent increase the City Council expected when it approved the law in 2005.
That figure appeared to be the only new wrinkle presented to the council’s Budget Committee today regarding the living-wage law, which has governed contracts between the city and its outside janitors, gardeners, laundry workers and gardeners for more than a year. The law requires the contractors to pay employees $10.34 an hour plus heath care or an equivalent amount.
We tracked the progress of the living wage in July, reporting that the laundry company for the city’s uniforms, Prudential Overall Supply, was skirting the law and that Mayor Jerry Sanders’ administration of the law was understaffed. City Attorney Mike Aguirre sued Prudential in September, alleging the company violated labor law by failing to pay a living wage.
On Wednesday, the law’s supporters said they thought the city was properly enforcing it.
“We’re quite happy in the way the living wage is being implemented,” said Murtaza Baxamusa, policy and research director at the Center on Policy Initiatives, which advocates for workers.
The Center on Policy Initiatives spearheaded the campaign to impose the living wage; opponents voiced concerns that the higher wages would be passed onto the city. The $4.9 million worth of contracts that were subject to the law increased by $1.2 million when the new requirement set in, according to the city’s Purchasing and Contracting Department.
Some council members said they want to discuss amending the ordinance so a living wage can be applied to the city’s ambulance workers, who are currently exempt from the law.
The Budget Committee also asked the City Attorney’s Office to study how the city can better force contractors to notify their workers about the law, as a worker from the Prudential laundry plant said she didn’t know she was being shortchanged by the company because the living-wage requirement wasn’t posted at her job site.