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The Citizens of San Jose Speak Out
Excerpts from testimony at a San Jose City Council meeting September 15, 1998, debating a living wage.

Living Wage rally at the San Jose City Council.

"The San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is opposed to this living wage proposal. And contrary to what some supporters of this proposal are saying, we do understand the concept and we do understand the underlying principles. This proposal will cost taxpayers more money. We know that. We have seen no report that quantifies it. Who benefits? San Jose residents and businesses will pay for this, yet we don't know if San Jose residents are going to benefit from that. There are other alternatives . . . San Jose/Silicon Valley has enjoyed considerable success, not because of intrusive government policies, but in spite of them. And the opportunities of this committee are truly unlimited, yet we know the plight of the working poor is not close to solved. We believe the City Council needs to put its attention on issues like housing, transportation, increased economic development, increased investment in this community, and deal with those high costs in a way that the City Council can truly impact the lives of citizens in San Jose."--Steve Tedesco, President, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce (www.sjchamber.com)

"As Los Angeles contractors, we were afraid of this [living wage] ordinance too. But we found out that once it was put in place it was not the worst thing in the world. Our clients are large, medium, small, minority, non-minority, both organized and non-organized by labor unions. Since the ordinance passed in Los Angeles, we have had a significant reduction in employee turnover costs, some were as high as 70 percent. And you know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And those costs were ultimately being passed on to us." --Dick Davis, Dick Davis & Associates, LAX Airport contractor

"I am the president of a building maintenance firm. We provide custodial services here in the Silicon Valley and also in the Southern California region. I am in support of the living wage mainly because it levels the playing field of the non-union and union companies, and it allows us to pay a decent wage and benefit package for our members. Specifically at LAX airport, it has allowed us to reduce turnover, better compensate our folks, give them security and, frankly, a lot of them do not have to hold a second job and feel secure about the first job. And it has been a great help. So understanding that, we support it." -- David Pasik, Contractor

"We have to understand [in weighing passage of a living wage] that the majority of the poor today are not the young, the old or the infirm, but prime-of-life working adults. The breakdown of family values is usually spotlighted as poverty's chief perpetrator, but the data tells a different story. The principle cause of poverty today is the erosion of wage and salary income for the working people of our country and our state and our city. True enough, unemployment is the lowest it has been in years. Jobs are available, but many do not pay enough for a worker to lift himself or herself and family out of poverty. This pattern has only been exacerbated as current welfare reform forces single mothers to find paid employment. Without a raise, raises in wages and benefits, the principle impact is and will continue to be to increase the already large percentage of the poor who currently work in their poverty." -- Father Eugene Boyle, Chair of the Interfaith Council on Religion, Race and Social and Economic Justice

"As a small business person, I would love to pay my employees the minimum livable wage that is being proposed. My question, however, is how can a small business person like me compete with corporate America who can pay that wage and I cannot. The reason I cannot is because the people that pay me, namely my clients, do not want to pay me the hourly rate that is would take to support that wage. So I am kind of in the horns of the dilemma here. I want to give the wage, I believe in it, however, if I do give it, I could go out of business." -- Carol Casob, Small Business Owner

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