Emmeryville, CA, Plans To Have Highest Minimum Wage In US

Emmeryville, CA, Plans To Have Highest Minimum Wage In US
“Minimum wage?!” Singapore Clarke Quay Elgin Bridge underpass 2013 (by RSCLS street art collective) Denis Bocquet / Flickr CC BY 2.0

A small city in the San Francisco Bay area approved to increase the minimum wage of workers to make a nationwide record. The baseline will see gradual escalations until it reaches the target of $16 an hour in 2019.


The decision comes after a 5-0 vote was declared by the city council in Emmeryville in favor of raising minimum wages of the workers.

Emmeryville has a population of about 10,000 residents.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Emmeryville City Councilwoman Dianne Martinez said, “Just as our workers are creative enough to make a living off of minimum wage and support their families, I think our businesses will be creative enough to make it work and we’ll all lift up together.”

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Since 2009 the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour, as reported by Reuters.

The proposal, subject to final approval vote on May 19, calls for an increase in minimum wage to $14.44 an hour for large businesses (or those employing at least 55 workers) and $12.25 for smaller ones. The changes will take place on July 1.

Contra Costa Times reports that the newly proposed wage of $12.25 an hour for small businesses will progressively increase each year. It is expected to reach $13 an hour in 2016, with the value being upped by a dollar each year till it reaches $16 in 2019.

Beyond its intended target, any rise will be based on the local consumer price index.

For larger businesses, the annual rise in the minimum wage, which will start at $14.44 from July 1, will rely on the consumer price index. It is expected to reach $16 an hour in 2019 with more yearly indexed increases.

Maribel Martinez, a janitor in Emeryville, is in support of the newly introduced law. “I think the minimum wage should go up because everything is expensive — food, rent.

“And then we have to pay for people to take care of our kids. So at end of the month, we don’t have money left to pay all our expenses.”

Jennifer Lin, deputy director for the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, emphasized that the increase is unprecedented, and that no other town or city has proposed a law to increase the minimum wage higher than $16 an hour.

However, the decision also evoked opposition from some people. They said that with the increase, certain business could be forced to downsize their staff.

Cole Tibbetts, general manager of the Oaks Card Club on San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville, contesting the law, said, “I’m here to ask the council to delay implementation and conduct an economic impact study.

“An increase of this size and speed is going to be too much for businesses to handle in such a short time.”

Currently, California‘s minimum wage is $9 an hour, a value more than the federal minimum wage.

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