SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Some changes were expected from the San Jose City Council Tuesday regarding its living wage ordinance. The idea was to simplify how it was applied to airlines and businesses operating at Mineta San Jose International Airport – a move designed to attract more flights to the facility.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

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The airport has lost one-third of its flights over the last few years, forcing local leaders to look for ways to make it more competitive with SFO and Oakland International Airport.

“San Jose has a great new airport but we’re trying to get airlines to increase their flights there,” explained Mayor Chuck Reed. “One of the things they see as a negative is the way our living wage ordinance works. I’m talking to CEOs of airlines, identifying areas they think are problems. This is one of them.”

While labor negotiations often turn contentious, that was anything but the case in San Jose. Reed and his colleagues in the City Council rejected a staff recommendation for a 10% cut in the living wage. Unions were pleased with the alternative plan that advanced.

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“It’s not the amount of the living wage, it’s the way it’s being applied, the way it’s being calculated and how it’s being administered. Those are issues that we’re taking up on Tuesday and I think we’ll solve them to the satisfaction of the airlines,” Reed said.

South Bay Labor Council Chief of Staff Ben Field declared it a victory for the workers.

“The proposal now is to maintain the $12.94 rate and that’s a rate that’s sufficient to provide for basic needs like housing and clothing and food,” he said. “They were at risk of having their pay cut by 10%, which really would have been devastating for them. And it’s a victory for the principle of living wage, which is that the city ought to pay its airport workers enough so that they can afford the basic necessities of life.”

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