Union floats $15 minimum wage for ballot

In case Mayor Ed Lee forgot, he isn’t the only one hoping to raise wages in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s largest public employee union filed a ballot plan to The City’s Department of Elections Monday, proposing to raise San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

That figure would tie for highest in the nation, with SeaTac, Wash. as the only other city with a $15 hourly wage.

The measure still needs nearly 10,000 signatures to qualify as a ballot measure for the November election, a goal the union says they will easily meet.

With Lee still moving ahead with his own minimum wage measure, San Francisco could have competing wage legislation on the ballot come November.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 apparently surprised Mayor Lee with their proposal.

The Mayor has been working on his minimum wage issue for months, and his office says they invited SEIU local to help hammer out the Mayor’s proposal last week.

SEIU local denied this and said they haven’t been contacted by the Mayor’s office or the Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Linscheid said the chamber was outraged, and had strong words for the preemptive measure in a statement:

“This initiative is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to influence the outcome of the consensus-building process that will begin this week under the leadership of Mayor Ed Lee.”

Chamber vice president, Jim Lazarus, also scoffed at Monday’s announcement, calling it a political ploy. Lararus told the SF Examiner:

“It’s unconscionable. To come up with a number out of thin air. It’s not based on real-world economics.”

SEIU political director and former S.F. Supervisor Chris Daly told the San Francisco Chronicle that outrage from the mayor’s office or Chamber of Commerce doesn’t make any sense, considering they haven’t even read the proposal:

“We’ve been working on this measure for months and months. As far as they know, we’ve addressed every one of their concerns.”

The SEIU proposal calls for businesses with more than 100 employees to raise their minimum wage to $15 by 2016, while businesses with under 100 employees have until 2017. Both would have to raise base wages to $13 by January.

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