The City Council voted 5-2 today to adopt changes to the city’s General Plan that identify a city goal to attract jobs with sustainable wages, and to call them “self-sufficient wages” instead of “living wages.”

I described the kerfuffle surrounding the issue earlier today.

Advocates for the working class worried that the mayor’s removal of the phrase “living wages” from the city’s blueprint for growth would be an ominous sign for how future development is considered in the city, while business representatives were concerned its inclusion would be a wage mandate.

The council also decided to include a definition in the plan’s glossary of such wages:

Self-sufficient wages pay enough for families and single adults to achieve a modest standard of living where families can make ends meet without assistance from public programs.

The confusion arose out of the term “living wages,” as the city in 2005 instituted the living wage ordinance that mandated certain wage levels for city contractors.

I chatted about the decision a few minutes ago with Susan Duerksen, communications director for the Council on Policy Initiatives, a local think tank focused on worker issues.

Duerksen cheered the decision. She said in the language shift, the council made it “real clear, it’s not the same thing as the living wage ordinance.”

“It’s not a wage standard — it’s a goal,” she said.

Councilmen Brian Maienschein and Kevin Faulconer voted against the inclusion of the wage language. Councilman Jim Madaffer was absent.

KELLY BENNETT

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