Sacramento City Council Finalizes
Adoption of Living Wage Ordinance

by Dan Bacher

December 15, 2003

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The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night gave its final approval to a living wage resolution, the result of a 4-1/2 year campaign by a broad coalition of labor, community and religious organizations.

The resolution’s final draft provides for a “living wage” of $9.00 per hour with benefits or $10.50 per hour without benefits. Living wage advocates had pushed for $10.00 per hour with benefits and $12.84 without benefits.

The final document also provided for only employee benefits in the $9.00 per hour plus benefits requirement for city contractors. Coalition representatives had pushed for family benefits instead, according to Ruth Holbrook from the Living Wage Coalition Steering Committee.

“The living wage resolution is only a beginning,” said Holbrook. “I’m sure we’ll be going back to the city council on this issue.”

The resolution’s adoption will require contractors of 25 or more employees doing $100,000 or more of business with the city to follow the living wage guidelines.

Although the City Manager added a sunset clause to the resolution, this clause was pulled out in the final document, due to pressure by the City Council and community members.

The City Council approved the measure by a 5 to 2 vote, with Ray Treatheway abstaining because of potential conflict of interest. Council members Dave Jones, Lauren Hammond, Bonnie Pannell, Steve Cohn and Sandy Sheedy voted for the resolution, while Jimmy Yee and Robbie Waters voted against it.

The Sacramento Chamber of Commerce had lobbied against the resolution. “We’re still opposed to the living wage, but we feel that this version is less costly and onerous than the previous one,” said Dave Butler, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Regional Policy & Development. “We’re opposed to the ordinance because we feel that it is an artificial way to implement a living wage. We do favor a sunset clause in the resolution.”

John Borsos of the Central Labor Council, Manny Hernandez from the Sacramento Unified School District Board, Lino Perez of SEIU 1877, Chris Jones from Sacramento ACORN and Efrain Gutierrez of the Chicano Consortium spoke on behalf of the resolution before the City Council passed it.

“Today has been a long time in coming,” said Borsos. “We applaud the leadership of Council members Dave Jones and Lauren Hammond, who sponsored the resolution. This is the first time that a inland city in California has adopted a living wage.”

“Today is a great day for Sacramento,” added Chris Jones. “The City of Sacramento showed real leadership by passing the living wage resolution.”

The City of Sacramento joins 114 other cities, counties and other jurisdictions in supporting a living wage. Among the many California cities passing living wage ordinances are Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oxnard, Watsonville, Hayward, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Sebastopol.

Members of the Living Wage Coalition Steering Committee include Ruth Holbrook, Eric Vega, John Borsos, Augustin Ramirez, Bill Camp and Karl Neuberger and Manny Gale.

Daniel Bacher is an outdoor writer/alternative journalist/satirical songwriter from Sacramento California. He is also a long-time peace, social justice and environmental activist. Email: danielbacher@hotmail.com.


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