Many workers in seven Bay Area cities will see bigger paychecks next month as a round of new ordinances raising minimum wages takes effect Monday.
Those in Alameda, Milpitas and Fremont will see the biggest bumps.
In Alameda and Fremont, the minimum wage will rise from $12 to $13.50 an hour, although businesses in Fremont with 25 or fewer employees can continue paying $11 per hour next year. Minimum wages in Milpitas will climb from $13.50 to $15 an hour.
In San Leandro the minimum wage will jump a buck, from $13 to $14 per hour.
They’re among the latest Bay Area cities raising minimum wages at a faster pace than the state, which is marching toward its goal of $15 an hour by 2023. Cities including San Francisco and Berkeley have already reached $15 per hour and those rates will increase slightly to $15.59 on Monday.
Emeryville has one of the highest local minimum wages — $15.69 per hour for businesses with 56 or more employees and $15 for those with fewer employees. On Monday, the minimum hourly wage for most businesses there will rise to the single rate of $16.30. There will be some exceptions, however, a result of the Emeryville City Council responding to the concerns of small business owners.
The council last month approved an amendment to the minimum wage ordinance that defines small independent restaurants as those with fewer than 20 locations globally, including franchisees. The amendment sets the hourly minimum wage for those restaurants at $15 for fiscal year 2019-2020 and phases in gradual increases over the next eight years until the rate matches those of all other businesses.
East Bay Working Families, a coalition of labor advocates and workers, submitted a petition to overturn the amendment. Chadrick Smalley, the city’s economic and housing manager, said the signatures are being reviewed by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, and if they’re confirmed, the council will either repeal the amendment or put the question to voters in an election.
“The rising cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area has made it one of the most expensive regions to live in the United States. Suddenly revoking a long-awaited minimum wage increase further devalues Emeryville’s most vulnerable community members,” East Bay Working Families stated in opposing Emeryville’s minimum wage amendment. “This abrupt decision to revoke a living wage from the city’s most vulnerable workers based solely on the feedback from business owners will leave these employees with an 8 percent pay cut.”
Opponents of minimum wage laws argue that forcing businesses to pay employees more than they can afford forces them to offer either fewer hours or fewer jobs or be forced to close.
Proponents counter that higher wages are key to surviving in the high-priced Bay Area.
Research on the impacts of minimum wages haven’t produced clear results. Business owners in Emeryville surveyed by Mills College researchers provided mixed feedback. While 33 percent said business suffered because of minimum wage increases, 14 percent said it actually improved. About 22 percent said workers were more productive, while 19 percent said productivity decreased. Even their perceptions of employee morale were split, according to survey results.
Approximately 32 percent of employees in California — 4.9 million — earned less than $14.35 per hour in 2017, a study released last year by the UC Berkeley Labor Center shows.