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Sacramento labor group pursuing wage hike until state enacts pay deal

Proponents of a ballot measure to raise Sacramento’s minimum wage to $15 an hour say they will continue their campaign at least until state leaders formally enact the pay deal announced this week.

If the agreement proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators and labor leaders to raise California’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 passes, officials with the group Raise the Wage Sacramento will reconsider their measure.

“If they can move it through the Legislature and get it to the governor’s desk and he signs it, then – when the ink is dry – we’ll consider stopping our signature gathering,” Raise the Wage Sacramento chairwoman Tamie Dramer said. “Until then, we are going full force.”

Raise the Wage Sacramento, a labor coalition that includes Organize Sacramento and the Center for Workers’ Rights, officially notified the city in December that they plan to gather signatures to put a measure on the November ballot. The group needs 21,503 signatures from registered city voters for the measure to qualify.

Dramer said the coalition intends to submit the signatures by the end of May. The proposal would see the city’s minimum wage rise to $11.50 an hour in January 2017 and hit $15 an hour in January 2020.

In October of last year, Sacramento’s City Council passed gradual increases in the city’s minimum wage through a last-minute compromise that created tension in the council chambers. Under that plan, the wage will rise to $10.50 an hour in January 2017, $11 an hour in 2018, $11.75 in 2019, ending at $12.50 in 2020.

Councilman Jay Schenirer, who co-chaired the city’s task force exploring the minimum wage increase and pushed for the compromise plan, said he’s pleased the state is moving forward with its own increase.

“One of the rationales that we discussed when we did the local initiative was to pressure the state to create a level playing field across municipalities,” he said. “Hopefully we played a role in it.”

In October, he told The Bee there were concerns about Sacramento significantly raising the minimum wage while it stayed lower just outside city limits.

The Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Monday opposing the governor’s plan, saying research showed $15 an hour will not work for the city.

“This is an unfortunate development with unintended consequences for our Capitol Region’s small business owners, consumers, seniors, teens, and nonprofit service providers,” Metro Chamber President and CEO Peter Tateishi said in a statement. “California already has one of the highest minimum wages in the country and a $15 wage would make it the highest statewide in the nation. The Capital Region does not compare to San Francisco or Los Angeles and we remain firm that $15/hour is not a workable wage for our city businesses and families.”

The group participated in the task force that explored the minimum wage increase for Sacramento and ultimately supported the city’s plan.

Raise the Wage Sacramento’s ballot measure would also require employers to provide one paid sick day for every 30 hours an employee works. The statewide plan calls for three days of sick leave for in-home health workers, but does not address sick days for other workers.

Dramer said she approves of the state benefit for those health workers, but she would like to see the governor’s proposal expand sick days for all employees. Her coalition could pursue a city measure on sick time, but that would require restarting signature-gathering efforts for a new ballot measure.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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