Do you work in a business on county property? Your salary and benefits may increase
A proposal to impose going wages and sick leave for businesses operating on county-owned properties is met with stiff opposition from those who argue it will harm hundreds of businesses and their workers and d ‘others who say it is nothing more than a partisan salon trick.
The “Working Families Ordinance” was presented by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nathan Fletcher in July, two of the five most liberal members of the board. They say raising wages and ensuring protections for employees will resolve growing inequalities in pay and housing in the region.
“Having higher wages is good, but putting companies and people out of work is bad,” said supervisor Joel Anderson, a Republican who joined his three fellow Democrats in voting for the proposal. But he asked for it to be given a more rigorous examination before returning for a final nod. “It’s a tipping point that could ultimately cost us jobs and opportunities,” he said.
If passed in its current form at the Supervisory Board meeting on October 5, the ordinance would impact up to 560 companies currently operating on county properties, primarily at airports and surrounding properties in El Cajon, Carlsbad, Fallbrook, Ramona, Jamul and Borrego.
A key element of the proposed ordinance is the requirement that workers receive prevailing wages, which are usually based on union wages. The order would also require 56 hours of annual sick leave.
In addition to the wage and benefit provisions, supervisors say another goal of the ordinance is to ensure that bidders of publicly funded projects are required to meet wage and safety standards. appropriate.
The county acts as the owner of its properties, while cities such as El Cajon and Carlsbad have jurisdiction over land use on the plots.
The city with the largest concentration of businesses that would be affected by the proposed ordinance is El Cajon, where more than 277 businesses operate on or around Gillespie Field, which is on county property. Almost half of the industrial and industrial land in El Cajon belongs to the county.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, a Republican, said it was clearly a political ploy that would harm communities of color.
“We all know the county has gotten very radical on the left, has woken up and we know the town of El Cajon is conservative,” Wells said. “I contend that this is outright, blatant politics, hard politics, and I can fight all day. They attack people who are trying to put food on the table in El Cajon. They take their politics awake and they destroy lives.
Lawson-Remer said that public lands used for the public good and (all future) publicly funded projects must have workers who are paid appropriately – “a fair day’s work so that they don’t not to live in poverty and try to take care of their families. ”
She said supervisors were concerned about underpaid workers because the cost of living in San Diego County is high. She said the ordinance provides “wage, health and safety rules that level the playing field for everyone.”
The ordinance says it “will improve wages and working conditions in industries and sectors that depend most on the labor force of women and people of color, including construction and services.”
“It’s about not exploiting workers on public land,” Lawson-Remer said. “People who work hard, who get up every day to do their part, to contribute and to give back. We support families who want to put food on the table. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in San Diego has opportunities. “
Lawson-Remer said the ordinance is still under development and could be changed. She said that would only apply when leases are being renewed.
In Carlsbad, it is estimated that 177 leases or subleases would be affected at the county-owned McClellan-Palomar Airport. The facility’s advisory committee last week approved a resolution opposing the ordinance.
“I personally think this is bad policy for the county and certainly bad for the airport,” said committee chairman Chuck Collins, who is chairman of several companies at the North County airport offering services. services such as aircraft sales, appraisals, charter and management of aircraft assets.
“Enforcement (of the proposed order) would have so many potential unintended consequences that I just don’t know how it would be implemented,” Collins said.
The advisory committee has nine members appointed by the County Oversight Board, including residents of Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside.
El Cajon said the order would cause great economic harm to Gillespie Field and its tenants. The airport is home to 50 aircraft hangars with around 30 small businesses that pay rent to the county.
The county also owns land around the airport, and in total the city estimates that there are 300 El Cajon businesses that lease property to the county, and that based on the city’s business license data , there are up to 3,500 people who are employed in these companies.
Barry Bardack, of the Gillespie Field Development Council and chief flight instructor at the Golden State Flying Club, said the revenues from the Gillespie Field industrial park were going into an airport business fund. This fund is used to operate the airport system, he said. The county’s proposal would likely drive out tenants, which would affect major tenants, who in turn could potentially default on their leases.
“The whole area will be abandoned,” Bardack said. “The industrial park supports the entire system, the eight airports in the county. If it passes, everything goes.
Ricardo Villa, president of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the business group opposes the ordinance because it puts minority-owned and immigrant-owned businesses that lease county properties at a disadvantage. .
“These companies pay rental rates at market rates,” Villa wrote. “It’s not fair to make them operate under a different set of rules, especially since many of these companies are just trying to survive and remain competitive coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. “
Villa said business owners, many of whom are people of color, immigrants and women-owned businesses, will be forced to lay off workers, relocate or shut down altogether.
El Cajon city manager Graham Mitchell said a survey of employers at Gillespie and Palomar airports showed that “between 59% and 67% of employees are not white,” and the ordinance Disproportionately takes jobs away from communities of color and disadvantaged communities.
Of particular concern is a recently approved project that would provide up to 500 jobs, Mitchell said. He said a developer’s plan to build a 142,746 square foot warehouse – which would be a last mile Amazon distribution site – on county property near Gillespie Field appears to be dead because of the order.
“We were weeks away from the start of construction when we learned of the details of the county’s proposal,” said Lee Chesnut, whose company Chestnut Properties owns the land on which Amazon is supposed to be built. “We were ready to create over 400 new full-time jobs at El Cajon. These jobs are now gone. I have spoken to many large employers interested in this 30 acre site. None of them are ready to go ahead. The threat of this ordinance killed any potential for new industrial development. The only way I can hope to create new jobs on this property is for the county to exclude this land from its proposed ordinance.
Taylor Guitars, which started as a three-person company and now employs over 500 people, has been operating out of a business park near Gillespie Field for 47 years.
Jordan Keglovits, head of contracts and legal affairs at Taylor Guitars, said the company agrees with the spirit of the proposed ordinance, but “places an undue burden on our business.”
Keglovits said the company’s pay rate starts at $ 16 an hour and it offers its employees a 401K plan and ownership benefits, among other perks.
“The financial framework of the proposed ordinance would negatively impact our ability to do business, potentially leading to layoffs and forcing us to reconsider our operations in the county – or both,” she said. “Also, we don’t think the county should dictate how we run our business or pass an ordinance that doesn’t give businesses any guidance on salary requirements. That alone makes business planning impossible.