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How Berkeley’s Minimum Wage Increase was Won – Progressives and Community Activists Lead the Way

Faced with a citizen ballot measure on November’s ballot, on August 31, the Berkeley City Council unanimously voted for a compromise proposal to increase the minimum wage in Berkeley to $15 an hour on October 1, 2018.

Progressive Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguin has been  a leader in the effort to raise the minimum wage. In 2013, he was one of the sponsors of the Council item that referred increasing the minimum wage to the Labor Commission.

Jesse’s opponent for mayor, Laurie Capitelli, delayed action to achieve the $15 wage. In May 2014, he reneged on promises made to community activists who have worked tirelessly for a higher minimum wage.  In September, 2015 he again voted against a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2018, while Jesse Arreguin and progressives on the Council voted for it. This year, he supported an alternative ballot measure that would have delayed the increase to $15 and added loopholes and exceptions. Finally, when it was too late to take the competing measures off the ballot, he and his council allies decided to join progressives on the council and action was finally taken to bring the minimum wage to $15.

Berkeley is now one of four Bay Area cities that will achieve the $15 minimum wage for all employees, regardless of the size of the business, in 2018 (others are Mountain View, San Francisco and Emeryville) with El Cerrito right behind in January, 2019.  The ordinance mandates sick leave, with a cap of 48 hours for employers of fewer than 25 workers and 72 hours from larger employers, starting right away.

As a result, BPA has withdrawn its support for Measure CC, the citizen measure. We urge a NO vote on both BB and CC.

For a more detailed account of the fight for the $15 minimum wage, click here.

Prepared by Rob Wrenn & Kate Harrison

Berkeley Progressive Alliance  –  PO Box 2961, Berkeley, CA 94702  –

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