On September 2, 2015, a task force appointed by Mayor Kevin Johnson recommended increasing Sacramento, California’s minimum wage to $12.50 an hour by 2020 and tonight the Sacramento City Council will vote on that recommendation, While a higher minimum wage in Sacramento would benefit many struggling workers and families unable to fulfill their basic needs, the ordinance exempts large segments of Sacramento’s most vulnerable workers.
The Center for Workers’ Rights opposes this minimum wage ordinance since the exemptions undermine efforts to improve the lives of Sacramento’s lowest-paid workers. Along with the National Employment Law Project, the Center for Workers’ Rights sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council detailing the issues with the proposed exemptions and enforcement guidelines (read our letter here).
Among our strongest concerns for the proposed increase is the so-called “total compensation” exemptions. This exemption is illegal under California Labor Code Section 351, which forbids employers and their agents from sharing in or keeping any portion of a gratuity left for or given to one or more employees by a customer. Furthermore it is illegal for employers to make wage deductions from gratuities, or from using gratuities as direct or indirect credits against an employee’s wages. Tipped workers already struggle with insufficient hours and inconsistent income; now Sacramento’s Minimum Wage Task Force is recommending that tips can count against the minimum wage, meaning tipped workers get less.
In addition, the City proposes exempting all workers under 18 years of age. Youth workers, more often than not, work as secondary breadwinners to help their families buy the basic necessities they need, but their families can’t afford. Young workers deserve equal pay for equal work.
Relying upon an outdated state and federal program, the Task Force proposes exempting certain workers with disabilities. This is discrimination and disabilities rights groups have called for an end to sub-minimum wage laws.
While intended to provide an incentive for employers to provide health care to their workers, the Health Care Credit is unenforceable and therefore serves as a loophole for businesses to avoid paying the wage increases. The credit allows employers to deduct up to $2.00 per hour for payments made to health care plans, regardless of whether workers have taken advantage of those plans.
Join us tonight at 5:00pm at Sacramento City Hall to voice your concern on the proposed minimum wage ordinance and to support Sacramento’s low-wage workers.