Politics

S.F.’s Minimum Wage, Highest in the Nation, Eludes Thousands as Enforcement Efforts Face Obstacles

Aaron Tilley and Michael Stoll, San Francisco Public Press — May 1 2013 - 11:07am

10-year-old reform unfinished as businesses routinely flout $10.55 mandate, labor activists say

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

While San Francisco’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thousands of workers still earn below the current mandate of $10.55 an hour, say economists, anti-poverty activists and public officials. It has been 10 years since voters passed the groundbreaking labor reform, and the city has built a first-of-its-kind inspection team that has recovered back wages for more than 3,000 workers. But these efforts appear to have addressed only a fraction of the problem. ALSO: Listen to discussion of S.F.'s minimum wage enforcement on KALW Radio’s “Your Call” Friday Media Roundtable.

Indigenous People Face Obstacles Seeking Legal Pay

Jonah Harris, New America Media — Apr 24 2013 - 12:46pm

Mayas from Yucatán find work in food service, but face language, immigration barriers

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Few are more susceptible to the crime of wage theft than indigenous newcomers from Latin America, say labor experts, advocates for minority ethnic communities and immigrant workers themselves. Indigenous people from Mexico and Central America, who make up as much as 30 percent of the population of immigrants from there, are less likely to be literate, to speak either Spanish or English proficiently or to have legal documentation.

Restaurant Worker Paid Below Minimum Wage for ‘Training’

Tearsa Joy Hammock, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 22 2013 - 1:00pm

Food-service sector among worst violators of wage laws

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

Last year, Mauricio Lozano found a job through a friend at a pizzeria in North Beach. The pay was $8 an hour, in cash. He said a supervisor told him he would get less than San Francisco’s minimum wage because he was “in training.” Under city law, that’s no excuse for paying below the mandated wage floor, then $10.24 an hour. But the restaurant needed someone right away, and Lozano was in no position to negotiate. 

S.F. Lacks Data to Set Minimum Wage Policies

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 15 2013 - 1:24pm

Estimates of low-wage workers range from 20,000 to 55,000

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

With President Barack Obama proposing to increase the federal minimum wage, local policy experts say fully understanding the economic effects of the change could be a problem given the dearth of accurate statistics in the large city that has had the highest minimum wage for years: San Francisco. No one has ever done a formal tally of minimum wage earners in San Francisco, said Ted Egan, chief economist for the city’s Office of Economic Analysis.

Economists Say City Minimum Wage Means Big Boost for Working Class

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 3:26pm

Backers say it helps recruitment and retention, opponents say it kills jobs

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

“Job killer” is a common refrain from businesses in opposing wage increases and other worker benefits. But some researchers are challenging the assumption that boosting the minimum wage depresses hiring. “We don’t see any decline in employment,” said Michael Reich, director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

‘I Don’t Think You Can Survive in This City on the Minimum Wage’

Christopher D. Cook, San Francisco Public Press — Apr 10 2013 - 3:21pm

At S.F.’s largest soup kitchen, working adults say full-time work no longer pays the rent

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

As President Obama’s minimum wage hike proposal renews a national debate over costs and benefits, many low-wage workers in San Francisco say they can hardly get by even on the nation’s highest minimum wage of $10.55, which is nearly $3 an hour higher than the federal rate. As rents have soared above $1,500 for a typical studio apartment,  low-income workers say San Francisco’s minimum wage isn’t enough to keep up. 

Ethnic Voters Bolster Democratic Edge in State, Poll Finds

Lissette Alvarez, SF Public Press — Nov 4 2012 - 12:56pm

California is reliably “blue” — Barack Obama carried the state by 23 points in the last election — largely because of the rise of ethnic voters, a new survey by the Field Poll found. “This hasn’t always been the case,” said the poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo. Republicans won seven of the nine elections between World War II and 1982, when the state became solidly Democratic in federal elections. “The main reason for it is because of the growth of ethnic population.”

Food Prices at Center of Debate Over GMO Labeling in Prop 37

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Oct 29 2012 - 12:20pm

Proposition 37, the state ballot measure requiring labels on genetically modified food, has revived a long-simmering debate about whether genetically modified food harms human health or the environment. But it’s the claim by opponents that food prices would increase that is riling proponents.

Board of Supervisors Candidates on the Issues: San Francisco Fall 2012 Election

Justin Allen, SF Public Press — Oct 24 2012 - 12:23pm
Where do they stand? We asked. A nonpartisan guide to the candidates’ political positions

Many observers complain about a lack of attention to the issues in city elections. It can be difficult for journalists, civic organizations and community groups to pin down exactly where the candidates stand on San Francisco policy disputes. Many of the candidate surveys distributed by news organizations and interest groups are limited because the questions permit evasive answers, focus on a narrow range of issues, or the candidates’ responses are not released to the public.

This issue-positions questionnaire for Board of Supervisors candidates in the November 2012 elections is largely based on recent divided votes of the board, covering the full gamut of San Francisco policy disputes, not just issues of concern to one or two groups. 

Mirkarimi Case Brought Spotlight to Domestic Violence in San Francisco

Christopher Peak, Public Press — Oct 4 2012 - 9:56am

As the city’s Ethics Commission debated whether Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was fit to hold his elected position this past June, the complex game of personality, politics and procedure eclipsed larger policy questions about the city’s approach to handling thousands of cases of domestic violence each year. But advocates for victims said the hearings generated wider awareness of the problem of domestic violence.

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