Among the most important issues facing Santa Monica today is the question of whether and how to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next five years. The City’s plan will likely mirror the wage increases recently adopted by the City and County of Los Angeles, and under consideration in a number of local cities. The City Council, the business community and advocates on either side of the issue have been discussing this topic for months-with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce always at the center of that debate and in constant dialogue with city leaders.

We urge the City Council to do the right thing tomorrow when it takes the issue back up, and approve an ordinance that treats all businesses equally and allows them the flexibility they need to adapt to this change.

Our core mission is to ensure that Santa Monica continues to create, attract and maintain good-paying jobs that allow people to grow and thrive, stay to raise their families, and invest in our city’s future. Fair wages make that reality possible.

1. Adopt a minimum wage that is consistent with other local municipalities, allowing Santa Monica to remain competitive in the evolving marketplace.

2. Allow for a flexible service charge model under which restaurants, hotels and other entities would retain the authority to collect service charges in a transparent manner and distribute those charges as appropriate among both front and back-of-house staff and put those funds towards expenses that directly benefit employees.

3. Implement a sick-leave policy that grants a sensible number of paid sick days annually for full-time employees. This balances the need to protect workers’ and customers’ health with the many other demands placed on employers, which will only increase with the minimum wage hike.

4. The Chamber of Commerce feels strongly that we must protect young people’s gateways to lifelong employment. To that end, it is critical that the new minimum wage ordinance not unduly impact youth, seasonal or transitional workers.

5. Adopt a minimum wage that treats all employees and businesses fairly. We are concerned that the proposed “union supersession” or union exemption would unduly burden or target businesses without collective bargaining agreements.

By incorporating these common-sense suggestions, the City has an opportunity to create a minimum wage law that allows both businesses and employees to thrive. We hope that our City leaders strongly consider these recommendations, many of which are consistent with the city staff report released last week, which carry the weight of hundreds of Santa Monica businesses-employees proudly included. Let’s leave the politics behind and do the right thing by adopting a fair minimum wage increase that truly has the best interests of all Santa Monicans at heart.

State of the City

For 90 years, the Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront of the city’s evolving economic and civic landscape. We understand that growth is only possible through a disruption of the status quo, which in turn allows thought leaders to innovate and create exciting new possibilities. In Santa Monica, those paradigm shifts have resulted in the very things that make our city great-from the Third Street Promenade to our booming tech sector to the almost-here Expo Line. As we adapt these changes, the Chamber plays a critical role in engaging residents and businesses alike to ensure that all of Santa Monica is ready for our future.

Join us to talk about this exciting future on Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the 2016 State of the City event, a partnership between the Chamber and the City. This year’s event-held for the first time in the evening-will highlight the many ways that Santa Monicans “Innovate & Create” to push the boundaries of business, technology and government. It will take place at SGI Auditorium in downtown Santa Monica and is a who’s who of Santa Monica, bringing together the business and resident communities with City leaders to hear first-hand about the city’s economic outlook, as well as the new initiatives aimed at helping all Santa Monicans thrive.

We will be celebrating the following business and community leaders this year: Water Garden for the Economic Excellence Award; Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences for the Community Excellence Award; and Science for the Impact Award. The winner of the inaugural Hack the Beach Award will also be announced.

Tickets are $10 for students and seniors, $40 for members and $50 for non-members, and more information can be found at http://www.smchamber.com/SOTC or by calling 310.393.9825. Don’t forget to join us on social media at #SOTC2016!

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