Council members bypassed the voters and approved minimum wage increase starting at $9.75 next year to $11.50 by 2017 including five earned sick days.
“Not making enough money working both jobs, I’m struggling and I have to live in my car,” said security guard Marcus Nichols.
But council members Lori Zapf and the two other Republicans–the minority–rejected the hike.
“When you are running a small business, that is not a small amount,” Zapf said.
Businesses fought hard against the increase.
“I will potentially need to cut some employees,” said one business owner.
Even a Taco Bell worker who takes home the state’s $9 minimum wage opposes the increase.
“It’s not about standing up for the businesses. It’s about standing up for what is right and what is logically sound,” said Taco Bell employee Zachary Mullaghy.
Mullaghy agrees with some in the restaurant industry like Karl Strauss, a CEO who fought to exempt tipped employees and give the extra $1.50 to people who really make the minimum wage, like dishwashers and cooks.
“Let’s do it so the money is really going to the people we are trying to help,” said Chris Cramer, CEO Karl Strauss Brewing Company.
In a rare appearance, NBA legend Bill Walton motivated the council like he did on the court, and leaders listened.
“My experience has been that nobody makes it to the top of any mountain alone. You are the people who can extend that helping open hand,” Walton said.