The city of Berkeley is considering raising its minimum wage to $10.74 per hour. The city council will have a special session on May 1st to consider the proposal.
The debate in Berkeley mirrors minimum wage debates across the country: those who support it believe that higher wages give workers more discretionary money which they will then spend, improving the broader economy. Opponents generally maintain that a higher minimum wage (in other words raising the cost of labor) will force businesses to lay off workers, increasing joblessness and hampering the economy.
The proposal comes at a time when the minimum wage debate has taken center stage at the local, state, and national level. Neighboring cities of Oakland and Richmond are currently considering increases to their minimum wage, and San Francisco has already raised its minimum wage to $10.74. The California legislature recently passed AB 10, which will raise the state's minimum wage to $10.00 by 2016. And nationally, Democrats are making the minimum wage an election issue, with President Obama recently signing an executive order to raise the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $10.10.
Raise the minimum wage to $10.74 per hour for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. For “corporate franchises” or businesses with over 50 employees, the minimum wage would increase to $13.34 per hour, the equivalent to the Berkeley Living Wage.
The new wage would take effect on June 30th of this year and would rise every subsequent June 30 in alignment with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for urban wage earners in the Bay Area. On June 30 2015 a health care requirement will be added, and starting in 2016 the small business minimum wage will increase by $0.55 annually after adjusting for the CPI until the minimum wage reaches parity with the Berkeley Living Wage, $13.34.
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