Oakland Minimum Wage Increases by 36 Percent Monday

A supporter of Oakland's minimum wage increase holds a sign during a celebration rally outside Oakland City Hall. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Oakland is the latest in a growing number of Bay Area cities seeing a jump in its minimum wage, with that base wage rising on Monday from the statewide minimum of $9 an hour to $12.25 — a 36 percent increase.

On Friday, fast-food industry workers and minimum wage advocates gathered outside Oakland’s City Hall to celebrate the wage increase.

Oakland resident Christopher Higgenbotham, 23, has worked as a cashier at McDonald’s for six years, where he was making $9.75 an hour.

“So many people are going to be affected by this, and so many people need it to live in this city,” says Higgenbotham. “We need to keep it as diverse as we can, and that’s going to happen now through Measure FF.”

Higgenbotham says he plans to use the boost in his income to save up money for a home.

Measure FF, which was sponsored by the labor and community activist coalition Lift Up Oakland and passed last November with 82 percent of the vote, will also provide five to nine paid sick days for workers. According to the group, close to 48,000 Oakland residents will receive an increase in wages, while 56,700 workers will get paid sick days.

Organizers at Lift Up Oakland say they hope Oakland can set an example for other Bay Area cities to raise wages.

“We believe that raising the minimum wage now is critical to maintaining our region,” says Kate O’Hara, director of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy. “Families will be able to stay in their homes, workers can live closer to their jobs and we can build stronger communities.”

San Francisco’s minimum wage was also increased at the ballot box last November, with Proposition J raising the wage to $11.05 an hour as of last Jan. 1 and to $12.25 on May 1. The minimum pay rate in the city is slated to hit $15 in 2018.

San Jose voters kicked off the trend toward increased minimum wages in the Bay Area by passing Measure D in 2012. That proposal, written and promoted by students at San Jose State, increased the city’s minimum wage to $10 (it’s currently $10.30).

Opponents of the wage increases have argued that higher payroll costs would force businesses to lay off staff, move or close altogether.

The city of Berkeley raised its minimum wage to $10 last October and is set to increase it to $12.53 by the end of this year. And the Emeryville City Council is looking into hiking its minimum wage to nearly $14 by year’s end.

In Oakland, the minimum wage is now set to rise each Jan. 1 by an amount corresponding to the federal Consumer Price Index.

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