Berkeley residents who support enacting a minimum wage ordinance have chosen a different route than by referendum. A proposal has been submitted to the Berkeley City Council, which is expected to vote on the issue probably in April. The main features of the proposal is to achieve a living wage. The minimum wage would begin at close to $11 an hour, and would be increased by 55 cents each year. Also, employees would receive a medical benefit of $2.22 an hour. And extremely important, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually according to changes in the cost of living. Down the road the minimum wage could reach as high as $20 an hour.
Keep in mind that not only minimum wage workers, who are increasingly adults with families, would be impacted. Those workers who are just above the minimum are also most likely to see increases in hourly earnings.
We are delighted with the efforts and commitment of Oakland progressives, including the labor unions. I am sure that progressives in both cities will benefit from each other on what we trying to accomplish. The business community is howling about how a higher standard of living will hurt workers. As if business really cares!
The wisest words I have heard on the issue of low wages were stated many years ago by Franklyn D. Roosevelt: “No business which depends for existence on paying less then living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”
Coordinator, East Bay Tax the Rich Group