Thursday, May 1, 2014

Curious about the latest on increasing the minimum wage in Oakland? Here you go:

This week, on Tuesday, April 29, the Community & Economic Development (CEDA) Committee of the Oakland City Council heard an item presented by Oakland City Councilmember & Vice Mayor Larry Reid to increase the minimum wage in Oakland to $10.20/hour next year, about one year and ten cents ahead of the already approved state increase in the minimum wage, but with some very important exceptions (trainees, youth employment, etc.). The primary alternative proposal, which continues moving forward, is a voter initiative currently gathering signatures to go on the November ballot and increase the minimum wage to $12.25 next year with no exceptions and requires paid sick leave and other measures as well.

The item was heard, no action taken, and staff was directed to conduct additional research and outreach. The Chamber's input on the issue was reflected in the staff report and discussion of the item. Specifically, based on the survey results (see below or in the latest Oakland Business Review) our new President & CEO Barbara Leslie provided the following public comment recommendations for any minimum wage policy for Oakland:
  1. Transparency: Any minimum wage policy should not be crafted behind closed doors by special interests. It should be enacted through a transparent legislative process.
  2. Sustainability: There are currently important questions to be asked relative to any proposed wage increase. How much? How fast? What areas should it cover? Who will be the winners and losers? Are there any businesses or industries that should be exempted or treated differently (small businesses, non-profits, and/or tipped employee businesses like restaurants, for example)? What will be the unintended consequences of some proposals? 
  3. Regionalism: The greater the region covered by the proposal, the better for Oakland employers and workers because it ensures a level playing field and broader regional benefits. What happens when a business is choosing to locate on the Oakland/San Leandro or Oakland/Emeryville border and they can reach the same market with lower labor costs? They may not choose Oakland. Further, whatever policy we adopt locally or regionally, we should advocate on a broader scale.

Here is a link to the original staff report including a cover letter from Vice Mayor Reid.

Here is a link to the supplemental report with updated information about proposals across the region.

The CEDA Committee is Chaired by Vice Mayor Larry Reid, and includes Councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, and Pat Kernighan. Click on any of their names if you would like to send them an e-mail regarding this issue.

If you would like to see the complete survey results, please check out the latest edition (May 2014) of the Oakland Business Review. Here's one graphic showing that the majority of respondents felt they would not benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, with a plurality not sure or saying it depends on the details:

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