Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is seeking a regional minimum wage increase that would jointly raise the minimum wage of Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda, Albany and El Cerrito to $12.82 per hour by 2017. The State minimum wage, stuck at $8 an hour since 2008, is scheduled to jump to $9 an hour on July 1st. In an economic region with some of the highest housing and transportation costs in the country, adopting our own regional increase may be the only way of keeping up with our high cost of living. Emeryville Mayor Jac Asher has been supportive of the measure, noting that the City Council plans to look at the idea in July. “My feeling is that we need to raise workers’ wages, and we need to do it immediately. People are really having a hard time.”
Richmond has led the way in the state by adopting a $13/hr. minimum wage, the highest in the state. Meanwhile, San Francisco is exploring raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The State Senate is also looking at a state-wide increase to $13/hr. by 2017. Opponents of the bill including the California Chamber of Commerce have labeled the bill a “Job Killer”.
Bates’ plan is based on Oakland’s proposal which will go before voters this fall. The primary difference is that the initial wage increase would be a more gradual 11.6 % the first year, instead of 36.1 % as proposed in the Oakland plan. Bates’ plan also omits the mandatory health benefits & sick leave, which he said should defer to each city. The consolidation of all the individual proposals would be beneficial to the individual cities allowing them to share paperwork, economic analyses and enforcement duties. It would also prevent cities with higher minimum wages from losing business to neighboring towns with lower minimum wages.
“I absolutely understand what Mayor Bates wants to do, and if there’s some way to get a regional minimum wage, I’d be very supportive.” added Asher, noting her colleagues on the council might not be as receptive to the measure. “Even Berkeley has had a hard time with this,” noting the Berkeley City Council’s revisions and delays to that city’s minimum wage plan. “I think, no matter what, we’ll all be fighting battles over this.”
Read More on SFGate.com →