Local clergy show strong support; restauranteurs troubled
By Terry Miller
The City of Pasadena has released two extremely lengthy studies detailing a minimum wage increase along with ‘impact analysis’ to comply with the Pasadena Minimum Wage Ordinance.
On March 14, 2016, the Pasadena City Council adopted a local minimum wage ordinance (Ordinance #7278). The ordinance required that on or before February 2019, the city manager shall present a report to the City Council summarizing the impact of the city-wide minimum wage on reducing poverty, unemployment, job creation, and overall business climate. The city hired two independent consultants to analyze the impact of the Pasadena Minimum Wage.
Many restaurateurs in Pasadena are deeply worried about the minimum wage increase and how it is already having a negative effect on business. “At Green Street we’ve cut hours, hired fewer people and raised prices due to your decision to rapidly increase the minimum wage. Unfortunately, your data will not tell us at what point does our customer decide that they can no longer afford to come to our establishment as frequently,” Bob Harrison said in a letter to council.
“Our own data has us worried that we have already reached that point and although we can’t attribute our concerns solely to price increases, it certainly has to be a contributing factor. A couple of years ago you went ‘all-in’ and supported the claims of the proponents. I ask you to reconsider the timeline. Green Street Restaurant is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Let’s slow this process down so that we will be around for another forty,” Harrison continued.
“We at Green Street, out of necessity, have had to cut 200-300 labor hours a week. If other restaurants have done the same, what has been the effect in Pasadena? Are workers making up for lost hours by taking on additional jobs? Is this the quality of life the proponents promised an increased minimum wage would give to workers?”
Harrison is not alone in his concerns. Robin Salzar who owns the popular Robins Ribs in Pasadena sees little help from the City Council in understanding the plight of the restaurants. On Jan. 14, Salzar wrote to fellow restaurant owners:
“Over the next 4-6 weeks leading up to the council review they will flood the media with op-ed pieces, letters and put pressure on the council members who are open to an honest review and discussion of the facts on both sides of the issue. It is also very clear that the mayor has no intention of changing the PMWO to the State of California schedule. Five councilmember votes will be needed to change the timeline to the state schedule.
Many of the restaurant owners want to remain anonymous but the evidence in overwhelming clear that a $15 per hour minimum will adversely affect their bottom line.
On the other end of the spectrum, Pasadenans for a Living Wage (PLW) has now become Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!)- an organization that is “committed to making Pasadena a more livable and inclusive city.” The organization has sided with local clergy in an attempt to get their goal – “Fight for $15.”
“The minimum wage law has been a significant benefit to tens of thousands of Pasadena families. We have heard many low-income workers describe how the additional income has improved their families’ lives, making it easier for them to afford basic necessities such as rent, food, clothing and health care.
The lives of low-income families will be even better, however, if the City Council votes to continue increasing the minimum wage to $14.25 per hour on July 1, 2019 and $15 per hour on July 1, 2020. Studies demonstrate that lifting families out of poverty creates an array of benefits, including improving health and student achievement among children from low-income families,” 30 local clergy said in a press release issued Tuesday.