$15 Minimum Wage Is Coming, One Way or Another

Mar 18 at 9am

There’s been a lot of talk lately about raising the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at a paltry $7.25 an hour. Always a leader on these things, California’s $8 floor will rise to $9 this July 1 and $10 on January 1, 2015. San Francisco’s minimum wage has been $10.74 per hour since the start of the year, and is at present the second-highest in the country after SeaTac, Washington, voted in a $15 wage floor last year.

And it seems like $15 is the magic number, as a new poll reveals wide support in San Francisco for a rejiggering to that level. Beyond the obvious benefits of putting more cash in working people’s pockets, it could also stanch the exodus from the city as more people – low-earning, dual-income families in particular – aren’t priced out entirely.

But whether or not a minimum wage increase gains sufficient momentum to become a ballot proposition, action is already being taken in the food and beverage industry. As an immigrant-heavy hotbed of minimum wage employment, riddled with abuses including outright wage theft, it’s been the focus of previous attempts to make life less hellish for people. But Healthy San Francisco surcharges have proved controversial and sometimes even they get stolen. So American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, which has two locations in the city, is reformatting its menu pricing structure to fold all taxes and city surcharges into the price customers actually see. Such a simplification means they’ll continue to pay their workers a decent wage, without that unpleasant side-effect of penny-pinching diners deducting it from the gratuity. That’s corporate mindfulness we can all get behind.

Before we pop open the champagne, let’s remember how little $15/hour really is: $31,200 a year before taxes, without any time off. Anyone celebrating that is still going to be drinking Cook’s.

Image via Thinkstock

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