Berkeley Minimum Wage Compromise Adopted by City Council

Voter - Money 2Discussions on minimum wage have been on-going in the City of Berkeley for over three years, without agreement.  Proponents of two competing ballot measures have now reached agreement on a City Ordinance, but not in time to keep the measures off the ballot. Both “sides” of the discussion were well-meaning and warranted – 1) concerns over employees being able to live on the wages in the high-priced Berkeley environment, and 2) concerns over whether small businesses will be able to adjust to increases in the minimum wage without severe consequences.

MEASURE BB     City Sponsored Measure   This measure is the result of nearly three years of discussion and compromise.  It increases minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019 then increases according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – a pace that allows small businesses time to adjust.  It includes mandated paid sick leave (six days for all businesses), and requires service charges be distributed to those providing the service, but with no reporting requirement.  It exempts youth-in-job training programs for up to one year, giving young people a chance to build experience.  The League previously recommended a YES vote on Measure BB.

MEASURE CC     Citizens’ Initiative   This well-intentioned initiative to bring Berkeley up to a living wage does not take into account all of the factors. It increases the minimum wage to $15 by 2017, with additional increases beyond that.  It requires mandated paid sick leave (six days for small business employees, nine days for others), does not have exemptions for youth-in-job training programs, and requires service charges be distributed to those providing the service, with reporting requirements. The League previously was neutral on Measure CC because the effect on Berkeley’s small businesses, although not fully known, could be severe.

The City Ordinance is a compromise measure, and like most compromises is somewhere in the middle.  It requires an increase to $15 by 2018 with subsequent increases according to the CPI.  It requires mandated paid sick leave (six days for small business employees, nine days for others), and transitions youth-in-job training programs to the minimum wage.

The City will try to withdraw the arguments in support of Measure BB and CC and recommend a “NO” vote on each.  If either passes, the measure with the most votes will go into effect and overrule the City ordinance.

Mayor Bates recommended that we track progress on the changes in minimum wage, including real impacts on all businesses, especially small business.

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