The Alameda County Registrar of Voters yesterday validated the signatures for Lift Up Oakland's ballot initiative calling for a $12.25 minimum wage, inflation adjustments, and paid sick leave, effective March 1, 2015. Should it be passed (and some 70% of Oaklanders support the legislation in a recent poll), when it goes into effect it will be the highest generally applicable minimum wage in any US City or State (SeaTac's $15.00 min wage has been put on hold for many of its workers).
Lift Up Oakland submitted 33,682 signatures from Oakland voters to put its measure for a minimum wage of $12.25 and paid sick days on the upcoming ballot. The coalition called on 1000 hours of work by more than 253 volunteers and the support of 45 labor and community organizations to gather the signatures, a reflection of overwhelming community support for this minimum wage proposal.Oakland will not hold undisputed title to "Highest Generally Applicable Min Wage" for long. San Francisco's proposed minimum wage law - which will eventually get to $15.00/hr in stages, unlike Oakland's - will push it's minimum wage up to $12.25/hr as well effective May 1, 2015. Oakland will thus have a mere two months to wave its title around and it will soon lose its title to San Francisco (and Seattle)as their min wage level stages up to $15.00/hr over the next few years.
Berkeley will not as quickfooted, but it will eventually reach parity with Oakland. On Tuesday, June 24th, the Berkeley City Council finalized its minimum wage ordinance. It raises Berkeley's minimum wage to $10.00/hr on Oct 1, 2014, goes to $11.00/hr on Oct 1, 2015, and then steps up to match Oakland's inflation-adjusted rate on Oct 1, 2016, coming in at $12.53/hr.
All these min wage hikes, and others that are happening around the country, were inspired by the Fight For $15 and its first victory in Seattle. Those who will be getting substantially bigger paychecks next year owe a debt of gratitude to the fast food workers and others who first came out, and went out on day-long strikes, starting just a year and a half ago. Most of them - in New York, in Chicago, in St. Louis - are still getting a subsistence wage. It's time to demand that everyone receive a living wage.