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San Francisco voters will vote on raising city's hourly minimum wage to $15 in 2018

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco voters will decide in November whether to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2018.

The mayor, city supervisors and business and labour leaders announced on Tuesday that they had reached a deal on a ballot measure for the increase.

"I can't tell you how happy I am. San Francisco is yet again setting the bar on workers' rights," said Supervisor Jane Kim, who helped broker the deal. "All San Francisco employers will be paying $15 an hour by 2018. There will be no tip credit, no health care credit. These are pure wages workers will be bringing home to their families."

Labour activists who were pursuing their own $15 minimum wage ballot measure will now drop their effort, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1pGBkJ9). They wanted the increase to take effect one year earlier, in 2017.

The city's current minimum wage is $10.74 an hour. Under the ballot measure that will go before voters, it would increase to $12.25 next May, then to $13 in July 2016 and $1 each year after that until it reaches $15 in 2018. At $15 an hour, the annual pay for a full-time minimum-wage worker would be $31,000.

Officials in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Richmond and Seattle, Washington, have voted for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Small businesses in Seattle have seven years before the wage hike kicks in.

Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, told the Chronicle that restaurant owners wanted an exemption for workers who receive tips. She also said employers should get credit for what they spend on workers' health care.

"We are a very different type of industry. Hospitality is the backbone of the city and a very labour-intensive endeavour," Borden said. "For businesses with tight margins and low prices, it's going to be hard."

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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