South Bay News

San Jose prepares for minimum wage hike

Friday, March 08, 2013

On Monday, San Jose's minimum wage workers are getting a $2 per hour raise. The increase to $10 will put to the test claims that it will end up hurting both owners and employees.

The boss hasn't said anything yet, but Noe Ortega will get a pay raise next week. He works 40 hours a week while going to college. San Jose's minimum wage will go up $2 an hour to $10. That's an extra $80 a week. The money will come in handy.

"Food, school supplies, I'm trying to buy a car, that's always hard," Ortega said.

But other minimum wage earners are heeding the warning about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

"It'll be nice having the $2 extra, but it'll be interesting for me to see how everything does pan out with the extra $2 given out to minimum wage," San Jose State junior Brendan McEvoy said.

McEvoy and others are wondering if their hours will be cut, effectively taking away the increase.

That's a possibility as 4th Street Pizza tries to calculate the impact of the higher wage. It has 20 part-time and full-time employees. Paying $2 an hour more will raise expenses about $2,500.

Prices for pizza, appetizers and drinks have already been raised by 25 cents to $1 to help cover the higher wage.

Some customers take it out on the employees.

"Some people do say some stuff and get a little upset," Angela Santoro said. "I've seen people get upset and then not tip at all."

Opponents of the minimum wage hike warned that small businesses might be hurt. It may be customers who determine if that happens.

"A taco stand like this, if they start raising the prices up for $1, $2 more, the whole reason I come here is because it's accessible, cheap and fast; if they raise it up, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to stop there," customer Angel Avila said.

However, other businesses, such as AJ Detailing, have already been paying its workers over $10 an hour. The higher wage has led to better morale and lower turnover.

"Right now this kind of labor is very hard to find it, so you have to pay very well otherwise, they will go look for another job," AJ Detailing manager Helen Masamori said.

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