With Gov. Jerry Brown expected on Monday to sign into law a plan gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, Valley business owners worry that the increased costs will compromise their ability to compete in the marketplace.
Gwen Clark owns the central Fresno consignment store Repeat Performance. She has eight employees working to keep the store open seven days a week.
“It will make it so that we have to increase prices and lay people off,” Clark said. “It’s a 30 percent increase in my payroll, and I can’t afford that.”
She said the minimum wage increase from $9 to $10 at the beginning of the year was hard enough – now she will have to do that five more times.
“These are entry-level positions,” she said. “(The government) is trying to make it so that people can support themselves on entry-level jobs – when they’re really meant for kids out of high school or in college.”
Clark continued: “That doesn’t make any sense. They (entry-level workers) need to go back to school so they can get a better job to support themselves.”
California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelson said that the wage increase ultimately will hurt consumers. California citrus growers already deal with one of the most expensive regulatory environments and hourly wages, he said.
“Your customers are going to start looking at other suppliers,” Nelson said. “It makes our fruit more expensive compared to Texas citrus, compared to citrus from the Southern Hemisphere.”
Nelson said he disliked the process through which the wage increase was adapted.
“Rather than having collective bargaining between employees and businesses, or unions, they are going to the Legislature and forcing it on Californians,” Nelson said.