Dennis Skaggs is the co-founder of Camera Cinemas which operates theaters in San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos.—Editor
Supporters of the minimum wage increase to San Jose businesses fail to consider the impacts of the small business owner trying to do business in this city.
Movie theaters have always been an excellent venue for entry level young people, and for over four decades the Camera Cinemas has employed thousands of young people in this way. Movie theaters traditionally employ young wage earners, and many that they employ is their first job. They learn people skills, customer service and have access to an inside track on just about every movie in release, but their employ is normally a stepping stone for other, more professional careers. The movie theater serves many of these entry level young people as part time employment while they are in school, or it serves them as a summer job between semesters.
An increase of 25 percent in the hourly rate, however, comes with many other unseen increases and competitive disadvantages to the small business owner. The “floor staff” of a movie theater normally gets paid minimum wage, while assistant managers and managers, projectionist and other staff get paid a little more per hour. All staff wages would have to be bumped up in order to be fair. Since the employer pays each employee half of their social security and other taxes, along with workers compensation, liability and unemployment insurance—all normally based on “gross wages paid”— the actual increases to a small business owner are huge. Minimum wage increases in the past have not been as severe, since it was always statewide, and all businesses—competitors and allies alike—shared the same burden. This San Jose-only proposed increase not only makes competition impossible with other small businesses in other surrounding communities, it will discourage businesses from locating in San Jose due to higher wage costs.
Unlike San Francisco, which has its own big city charm, the South Bay is predominately suburban communities with no distinguishable borders. Case in point is Campbell, where the Camera 7 operates in the Pruneyard Shopping Center. Camera Cinemas also operates the Camera 3 and 12 in downtown San Jose. Although only seven miles separate the facilities and Bascom Ave separates the cities, the job descriptions for all sites are the same. This would certainly not be fair to the employees of the Campbell site where the minimum wage would not be affected. If this ordinance passes, and there is a need to downsize an operation — and in this economy there is a very real possibility of this — the San Jose facilities would be considered first, due to its higher overhead. I’m certain that any other business owner would have to make similar decisions if this ordinance passes.
I urge everyone to keep San Jose competitive with our neighboring communities and vote against this ordinance.