A Compromise Could be in the Works for Sacramento Minimum Wage

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SACRAMENTO --

If the Sacramento City Council votes in a new minimum wage proposal Tuesday night, it could look significantly different from the one that's been discussed for months because of intense work being done on a compromise.

Income Inequality Task Force Chairman Jay Schenirer said an alternative plan will be offered as council sits down to consider staff recommendations for a $12.50 hourly wage plan.

The official plan on the table calls for worker tips to be included in what employers must pay.

"We don't want to go somewhere that could get us thrown out in court. So, we're looking for other options that will get us to the same result -- protecting the restaurant industry, protecting small business, so we're looking at other ways to get there," said Sacramento District 5 Councilman Schenirer.

Labor advocates have been promising to sue the city if a proposal was adopted with tips included, pointing out such a plan would violate state labor code 351 that says tips belong to the worker, not the company.

Now those same activists are eyeing a possible substitute concession for business that would allow some of an employer's contribution toward worker health care premiums to be counted as pay.

Critics say that amounts to excluding workers from any real increase at all.

"For them to continue to try and want to exclude these workers, which by the way are about 70 percent women, is just unconscionable, and it's just something that my organization and our coalition are not willing to accept," said Christina Arechiga with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment or ACCE.

Schenirer said he expects the work on a compromise to continue right up until the start of Tuesday's 6 p.m. council meeting.