RICHMOND | MINIMUM WAGE | An Oakland mayoral candidate has an idea to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15. The Richmond City Council is way ahead on that front. On Tuesday, it will discuss a resolution potentially giving voters the opportunity next November to raise the minimum wage to as high as $15 per hour.
In addition, the council will be presented alternative proposals raising the minimum wage to $11 and $12.30 per hour. Any of the three proposals would give Richmond one of the highest base wages in the Bay Area. Richmond Confidential reported, “The proposed minimum wage hike would exempt businesses with less than 10 employees and those operating less than two years in Richmond with fewer than 26 workers.”
The Great Recession hit Richmond harder than most cities. It has been plagued in the past with rising crime, unemployment and a high-rate of foreclosures. Crime was down last year and the improving economy has helped the city, however, not enough for a progressive wing of the council that has shaken up the establishment in recent months. First, with an anti-foreclosure program to assist homeowners in reducing principal on their mortgages which received national attention and now, potentially, a ballot measure to significantly raise its minimum wage.
Richmond’s strain of progressive activism is showing signs of influencing Oakland, its larger neighbor to the south. The Oakland City Council dipped its toes into the anti-foreclosure debate last fall before toning down its interest following veiled threats from its business community. However, last week, Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel pledged to make raising the minimum wage to $15 a centerpiece of his campaign to unseat Mayor Jean Quan.
If the proposal could somehow rise from campaign rhetoric to a bonafide piece of city legislation it may greatly hinge on whether progressive candidates can capture the two open seats being vacated this year by Council President Pat Kernighan and Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who is also running for mayor.