San Francisco, Oakland Ballot Measures Set Up ‘Regional Referendum’ to Raise Minimum Wage Across Bay Area

San Francisco and Oakland Voters Favored to Approve Nation’s Strongest Minimum Wage Laws in November, with Richmond, Berkeley, others to Follow

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today voted to formally qualify for the November ballot an initiative to raise the minimum wage. The Oakland City Council voted on July 15th to formally qualify for the ballot Lift Up Oakland’s initiative to raise the minimum wage.

These are the strongest minimum wage proposals in the nation and represent the first steps in a regional referendum throughout the Bay Area to raise the minimum wage, guarantee cost of living increases alongside inflation, and ensure workers earn paid sick days. City of Richmond voters are expected to vote on a similar ballot measure in 2015, while City of Berkeley voters will do so in 2016, and other cities from Emeryville to Albany to Hayward will also consider minimum wage legislation and initiatives by 2016.

“Economic inequality is a crisis for millions of low-wage workers. We have families choosing between food and medicine, between rent and clothes for their kids, and that is tragic,” said Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU1021. “Qualifying these strong, progressive ballot measures to raise the minimum wage is a victory for low-wage workers in Oakland and San Francisco, but it must be just one step in raising working standards for all workers in the Bay Area and nationally.”

The San Francisco measure is a broadly-supported consensus that came about after the Coalition for a Fair Economy, a coalition of community members and workers including SEIU 1021, first filed a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage. This consensus measure raises the minimum wage to $15 for all workers by 2018, with cost of living adjustments alongside inflation (San Francisco voters adopted paid sick days in 2006).
The Oakland measure was qualified by Lift Up Oakland, a community coalition that also includes SEIU 1021, and gathered more than 33,000 signatures from voters. It raises the minimum wage in March of 2015 to $12.25 for all workers, with cost of living increases and paid sick days.

The Richmond and Berkeley initiatives are based on the Oakland model, and will replace loophole-ridden legislation passed by both City Councils under duress from the local chambers of commerce. Community coalitions are developing specifics in other cities, with public votes expected in 2016.

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