Labor Advocates Cheer Progress of Bay Area’s Minimum Wage Campaigns

San Francisco Starts Path to $15 May 1, Votes Upcoming in Emeryville (May 5) and Berkeley (June) 

San Francisco–More than 142,000 workers are expected to eventually earn a raise as San Francisco’s minimum wage starts rising towards $15, with the first increase to $12.25 occurring on May 1. Joining San Francisco on the path to $15 are the cities of Emeryville and Berkeley, which will hold votes on May 5, and sometime in June, respectively, as their cities look to raise their own minimum wages.

This momentum comes on the heels of Oakland implementing what is currently the highest wage in the nation, at $12.25, and after national protests on behalf of fast-food workers and other low-wage workers, including in the Bay Area on April 15 when thousands of local workers protested in the streets to demand economic justice.

“The fast-food workers have been an incredible inspiration in the fight for $15,” said Alysabeth Alexander, SEIU 1021’s Vice President of Politics. “They have sparked a mass movement on behalf of all the low-wage workers in our society. This economy is not working for everyday workers. We need to fight for $15, raise the minimum wage, and treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“We are winning the Bay Area’s fight for $15. The Bay Area is moving to develop the first regional standard in the county for wages and working conditions,” said Gary Jimenez, SEIU 1021’s Vice President for the East Bay. “San Francisco and Oakland have set the standard, now it’s time to expand to Berkeley, Richmond, Emeryville, and beyond.”

San Francisco and Oakland voters overwhelming approved raises in the Minimum Wage last November. Proposition J in San Francisco won with 78% and Measure FF in Oakland won with 82%. The two initiatives were each originally filed by a coalition of SEIU 1021, community-based organizations, and fellow labor unions.

The Bay Area initiatives will benefit 190,000 workers, and add nearly $500 million in consumer spending power to the local economy, according to research by the UC Berkeley Center on

Labor and Employment Research. Prop J raises San Francisco’s Minimum Wage to $15 in 2018, and Measure FF raises Oakland’s Minimum Wage to $12.25 in 2015, each indexed to inflations. More than half of workers of color will get a raise.

Emeryville’s proposal will be considered on first reading by the City Council, and calls for a minimum wage of nearly $16 by 2019, with workers at major employers like big-box retail stores earning an immediate jump to $14.42. The proposal also guarantees paid sick days for workers, protects tips, and ensures wage increases alongside inflation. Berkeley’s Labor Commission in June will bring the City Council a proposal to raise its minimum wage to $15.99 by 2017, with community allies proposing a 2016 ballot initiative if that is unsuccessful.

SEIU 1021 will continue working with community groups in the dozens of other Bay Area cities considering raising their wage.

The proponent of Measure FF is Lift Up Oakland (www.LiftUpOakland.org) and the proponent of Proposition J is the Campaign for a Fair Economy (www.RaiseUpSF.org). Lift Up The East Bay is sponsoring Emeryville’s proposal, while Berkeley’s is sponsored by a coalition of labor and community activists.

 

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