Raise Wages for Economic Recovery

Mayor London Breed

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The Budget and Appropriations Committee of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco has approved a spending plan that includes appropriating funding in the city budget to raise wages for low-wage workers with whom the City contracts to provide services to the community. These low-wage workers are not paid enough to support their families. They deserve respect for the work that they do. They take care of our elderly and disabled. They take care of the homeless so that they can transition off the streets. They mentor our youth so that they can pursue a productive role in our community. They provide counseling to families in need. They provide health care services. They educate people on their legal rights and provide legal referrals.

These workers provide valuable services to the community. These low-wage workers are being driven out of the City because they cannot afford to live here any longer. We need to retain these workers to ensure quality services to the residents of the City.

Mayor London Breed has threatened to block the spending of these funds even if they are included in the budget. Urge Mayor Breed to fund non-profit organizations that provide services to the community so that they can raise the wages of their lowest-paid workers to a minimum $17.05 per hour.

It is a matter of making this a political priority to raise the wages of low-wage workers. This is the right thing to do.

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To: Mayor London Breed
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The Minimum Compensation Ordinance wage rate increased 3.311 percent with the Bay Area Consumer Price Index on July 1, 2020, from $16.50 to $17.05, but workers at city-funded non-profit agencies will not get wage raises unless the Board of Supervisors appropriate funds for the increases and the Controller certifies that such funds are sufficient to pay for the increases.

The wage raises are meant to retain and attract workers to avert a pending crisis of the implosion of the social infrastructure of San Francisco. There are nearly 5,000 non-profit workers who are performing public services under City contract. These include desk clerks and janitorial staff at supportive housing, and staff at homeless shelters, after school and summer programs for youth, senior programming, homeless support, violence prevention and mental health services. There is a mass exodus of workers from these low-wage positions because they are either struggling to not be displaced from San Francisco or have been forced out to Antioch or Pittsburg, or even farther environs like Tracy, Modesto and Stockton. They are at the point that it is not longer worth the hours of commute to work in San Francisco, unless wages increase. Some non-profits are seeing a staff turnover as high as 40 percent.

Once we get on the other side of this COVID-19 health care crisis, we are going to need to deal with the economic fall-out. We know from experience that the best stimulus for economic recovery is increasing wages for low-wage workers. When workers have more dollars in their pocket, they spend them in the mom-and-pop stores and family-owned restaurants in their neighborhood. This is strategic in creating a healthier economy from the bottom up. San Francisco weathered the Great Recession better than most of California because our City was one of three in the country that had its own minimum wage and the Board of Supervisors had passed amendments increasing the Minimum Compensation Ordinance wage rate in 2008.

Now is the time to put money in the budget to push up the wages of those who are providing valuable services to the residents of San Francisco. This will have a ripple effect in raising wages throughout our local economy. There are those who say that we should prepare for a downturn in the economy by the City tightening its belt instead of increasing workers' wages. We say that putting money into workers' wages is the best way to get out of a recession.