Santa Cruz passes living wage

The Associated Press
Thursday October 26, 2000

SANTA CRUZ — The city council of this fervently-liberal seaside city voted unanimously Tuesday to pass the nation’s highest living wage – $11 dollars an hour, or $12 without benefits. 

Like most of the roughly 50 other living wage ordinances nationwide, Santa Cruz’s would at first only cover full-time workers for the city or for-profit companies with city contracts. Most city workers already make more than $11 an hour. 

City officials want to extend the minimum wage to temporary workers employed by the city and to workers for social service agencies funded by the city. 

The ordinance had no formal opposition as it was being developed over the last few months. But the Santa Cruz Chamber Area Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday it did not support the measure because of key questions about its impact. 

Chamber President Ken Whiting said the City Council had not addressed whether the ordinance would price unskilled workers out of some jobs or whether it would reduce the amount of public services that can be provided in the city. 

While some economists contend “living wage” laws are symbolic and have little effect, supporters of the Santa Cruz ordinance believe it will give hundreds of people a boost, even in communities elsewhere in the county. 

The National Association of Home Builders recently ranked Santa Cruz the second-least affordable area in the nation – behind only San Francisco. 

On the Net: 

Santa Cruz County Coalition for a Living Wage: http://members.cruzers.com/cab/livingwage/livingwage.html