Mercury News Joins Fight for Minimum Wage Hike

minwageProtest2Palo Alto became the sixth city in Santa Clara County to raise the minimum wage for workers within its city limits. This month, the mayors of San Jose and eight other cities have called for uniform minimum wage throughout Santa Clara County,  according to a September 2015 San Jose Mercury News editorial.

“Grown-ups hold these low-wage jobs. The valley is lacking jobs in the middle-income range, where hourly workers once found the stepping stone to a better life. . . The minimum wage plan includes doing a study of various options suggested by Liccardo and two San Jose council members. We’re sympathetic to helping on-the-edge small businesses ease into higher pay, but we’re more leery of allowing lower starting rates for some workers — particularly former foster children included in a ‘hard to employ’ category. These kids are abandoned by the state when they turn 18 and often end up homeless or in jail. They need decent pay at least as much as anyone else.”

The Mercury concludes that a uniform minimum wage across the county will end “the confusing and unfair variations now required in different cities.” But the confusing patchwork of minimum wage ordinances doesn’t stop at the county line.

Low-wage workers in Palo Alto will receive $11 per hour, starting on January 2016, while these same workers will only receive the state minimum wage of $10 if they work in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, or Redwood City. All San Francisco workers must be paid at least $12.25, beginning next year, but workers in Daly City and South San Francisco will languish at $10. Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, and Richmond have all given low-wage workers in their cities a raise, with additional increases over the next few years.
San Mateo County is one of the wealthiest, and most expensive, in the country. Low-wage workers and their families deserve a raise.  We agree with the Mercury, a regional minimum wage — one that does not stop at the county line — is a great strategy, and “It’s the right thing to do for low-income residents in one of the highest-cost regions of the nation.”


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